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How to Create a Startup Org Chart

July 19, 2022

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Having a point of reference to fall back on can be a life saver when you’re starting a business. Knowing who to reach out to (and when) can streamline standard operating procedures and communications.

Working towards this can be as simple as creating an organizational chart (or org chart) for your business.

Organizational charts outline channels of communication and staff hierarchy. It’s a visual representation of your business’ structure. From it, you can identify different departmental roles, responsibilities, and relationships between employees within the business. Essentially, it’s the roster in your business playbook.

In this guide, you’ll learn five easy steps to create your own organizational chart.

Step 1: List the members of your organization.

Want this to be accessible and useful for everyone in your business? It’s important that no team member is left behind.

Breaking things down by department can be helpful. You don’t have to think about this in terms of a hierarchy just yet (though you will eventually). If someone serves a role in two different departments, think of the one they spend the most time in.

Or, if you have one on hand, use your employee directory as an easy cheat to jump-start the process. If you don’t have one, kill two birds with one stone and make one now!

After you’ve made the list, send it to respective department heads to ensure that the information you’ve collected is accurate and up to date.

At this point, you might have something that looks like this:

Human Resources: Sally Jones - Director of HR.
↪ Ricardo Perez - Coordinating manager.
↪Jim Johnson - Compliance coordinator.
↪ Tamara Li - Employee representative.

Step 2: Find an easy way to input information.

Now, don’t get us wrong — everyone loves a good spreadsheet. But do you really want to spend time manipulating cells, finding the right formatting, and toggling a hundred different boxes?

We didn’t think so.

On the other hand, other more “user-friendly” sites make it impossible to use your org chart once it’s made. They’re riddled with pop-ups and charge exorbitant fees for a simple PDF download.

You can skip the hassle and incorporate your org chart into your business’ playbook easily with an LMS-alternative (like, ahem, Trainual).

A man pumping his fists and saying, "Woohoo!"

Don’t get us wrong — your org chart can be a highly valuable part of your business playbook, but it doesn’t help if it’s just shared knowledge. Ideally, you want to increase employee responsibility, accountability, and accessibility to crucial organizational information.

Step 3: Pick a layout for your org chart.

You’ll want to pick a layout that falls most in line with the way your organization is structured.

Three general formats work for most companies: hierarchical, matrix, and flat.

Hierarchical structure.

You might think of a hierarchical structure as a pyramid. The most senior and high-power employees of your business are seated at the top, with junior employees and staff at the bottom.

In this structure, members report to employees who are above them in the hierarchy. It makes the most sense to organize your chart this way if your business operates according to seniority and defers to experience or skill when considering employee value. This also works well for larger businesses, as hierarchical structures offer a clear chain of command.

It’s almost immediately clear who you need to report to — all you have to do is look upwards on the chart. This makes supervisor roles and lines of communication easy to read.

But a hierarchical structure might not be the right fit for your organization or its culture. It can create visual divisions across departments that don’t actually exist or leave the impression that some departments or people are more valuable than others.

Matrix structure.

A matrix structure is helpful when your employees report to more than one manager. They may wear many hats and contribute to different departments.

Matrix structures can promote collaboration and resource sharing. It supports employee engagement and can boost interdepartmental communication.

However, you should be sure to use other employee resources — like written standard operating procedures or flow charts — to help managers and their staff clearly understand their roles and means of communication. This structure can be less intuitive to read, so be ready to address points of clarification in your business playbook.

Flat Structure.

Unlike the hierarchical structure, a flat structure can be used for businesses that have no significant levels of hierarchy or seniority. So, if your business strives to engage employees at all levels to make collective decisions, this might be for you.

Having fewer layers and steps to navigate can promote communication and empower employees.

Your staff may feel at liberty to contribute to high-level decision-making and offer input on standard operating procedures. This can also significantly boost employee buy-in and lead to higher performance and productivity.

This organizational structure isn’t free from drawbacks. Sometimes, a lack of staggered positions can lead to feelings of stagnation, or create the illusion that there are no opportunities to advance.

Whatever structure you choose, remember that an org chart shouldn’t stand alone. Supplement it with a robust playbook to help your employees skip the stress of figuring out SOPs and organizational structure — and start performing to their full potential.

Step 4: Add the names and titles of your employees.

Labeling your org chart with employees’ roles and titles is a crucial step that adds nuance to the information being presented. Try visually adding boxes for different titles, roles, and levels of supervision.

It can be easiest to work from the top down.

Regardless of the structure you use for your org chart, you should consider which roles and titles should be in proximity to one another. For example, it makes sense to house your HR department in one general area, rather than to move your department heads to one area and separate support staff elsewhere.

Check your titles and reporting structure against any hiring paperwork, salary reports, or an existing company playbook. Before you distribute the org chart, you might also want to ask your managers and supervisors to check your work.

Step 5: Save, download, and distribute your org chart.

Once you are your team is satisfied with the way your organization is being represented, you can save and download your chart.

Your new org chart will help you streamline communication, increase accountability, and incentivize knowledge-sharing.

A wrestler lifting a belt above his head and saying, "We did it!"

Ready to build your org chart?

With a little time and some business brainpower, you can build out a clear and succinct org chart by following three simple steps.

  1. Gather the names and titles of staff.
  2. Pick a tool that you’ll use to put your org chart together.
  3. Select a layout that represents your organizational structure.

It’s easy to do on your own, but if you need some extra help, we can coach you through it.

Keep some of these tips in mind as you get started:

  • Your org chart is most helpful if everyone is included. Don’t forget to ask your department heads and supervisors to double-check your work. They can help make sure that no one is left behind. 
  • Make this easier by picking software that you feel comfortable using. Hate using spreadsheets? Don’t use one. You can try using word processors, presentation programs, or your favorite business playbook software. 
  • Remember to represent your organization in a way that is true to your business structure and workplace dynamic. 
  • Remember to keep your org chart up-to-date and accurate. As your business grows and changes, your org chart will too.

Once it’s done, don’t forget to share your hard work and keep your org chart somewhere accessible, like in your business playbook.

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Article

How to Create a Startup Org Chart

July 19, 2022

Jump to a section
Share it!
Sign up for our newsletter
You're all signed up! Look out for the next edition of The Manual Weekly coming Wednesday am!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Having a point of reference to fall back on can be a life saver when you’re starting a business. Knowing who to reach out to (and when) can streamline standard operating procedures and communications.

Working towards this can be as simple as creating an organizational chart (or org chart) for your business.

Organizational charts outline channels of communication and staff hierarchy. It’s a visual representation of your business’ structure. From it, you can identify different departmental roles, responsibilities, and relationships between employees within the business. Essentially, it’s the roster in your business playbook.

In this guide, you’ll learn five easy steps to create your own organizational chart.

Step 1: List the members of your organization.

Want this to be accessible and useful for everyone in your business? It’s important that no team member is left behind.

Breaking things down by department can be helpful. You don’t have to think about this in terms of a hierarchy just yet (though you will eventually). If someone serves a role in two different departments, think of the one they spend the most time in.

Or, if you have one on hand, use your employee directory as an easy cheat to jump-start the process. If you don’t have one, kill two birds with one stone and make one now!

After you’ve made the list, send it to respective department heads to ensure that the information you’ve collected is accurate and up to date.

At this point, you might have something that looks like this:

Human Resources: Sally Jones - Director of HR.
↪ Ricardo Perez - Coordinating manager.
↪Jim Johnson - Compliance coordinator.
↪ Tamara Li - Employee representative.

Step 2: Find an easy way to input information.

Now, don’t get us wrong — everyone loves a good spreadsheet. But do you really want to spend time manipulating cells, finding the right formatting, and toggling a hundred different boxes?

We didn’t think so.

On the other hand, other more “user-friendly” sites make it impossible to use your org chart once it’s made. They’re riddled with pop-ups and charge exorbitant fees for a simple PDF download.

You can skip the hassle and incorporate your org chart into your business’ playbook easily with an LMS-alternative (like, ahem, Trainual).

A man pumping his fists and saying, "Woohoo!"

Don’t get us wrong — your org chart can be a highly valuable part of your business playbook, but it doesn’t help if it’s just shared knowledge. Ideally, you want to increase employee responsibility, accountability, and accessibility to crucial organizational information.

Step 3: Pick a layout for your org chart.

You’ll want to pick a layout that falls most in line with the way your organization is structured.

Three general formats work for most companies: hierarchical, matrix, and flat.

Hierarchical structure.

You might think of a hierarchical structure as a pyramid. The most senior and high-power employees of your business are seated at the top, with junior employees and staff at the bottom.

In this structure, members report to employees who are above them in the hierarchy. It makes the most sense to organize your chart this way if your business operates according to seniority and defers to experience or skill when considering employee value. This also works well for larger businesses, as hierarchical structures offer a clear chain of command.

It’s almost immediately clear who you need to report to — all you have to do is look upwards on the chart. This makes supervisor roles and lines of communication easy to read.

But a hierarchical structure might not be the right fit for your organization or its culture. It can create visual divisions across departments that don’t actually exist or leave the impression that some departments or people are more valuable than others.

Matrix structure.

A matrix structure is helpful when your employees report to more than one manager. They may wear many hats and contribute to different departments.

Matrix structures can promote collaboration and resource sharing. It supports employee engagement and can boost interdepartmental communication.

However, you should be sure to use other employee resources — like written standard operating procedures or flow charts — to help managers and their staff clearly understand their roles and means of communication. This structure can be less intuitive to read, so be ready to address points of clarification in your business playbook.

Flat Structure.

Unlike the hierarchical structure, a flat structure can be used for businesses that have no significant levels of hierarchy or seniority. So, if your business strives to engage employees at all levels to make collective decisions, this might be for you.

Having fewer layers and steps to navigate can promote communication and empower employees.

Your staff may feel at liberty to contribute to high-level decision-making and offer input on standard operating procedures. This can also significantly boost employee buy-in and lead to higher performance and productivity.

This organizational structure isn’t free from drawbacks. Sometimes, a lack of staggered positions can lead to feelings of stagnation, or create the illusion that there are no opportunities to advance.

Whatever structure you choose, remember that an org chart shouldn’t stand alone. Supplement it with a robust playbook to help your employees skip the stress of figuring out SOPs and organizational structure — and start performing to their full potential.

Step 4: Add the names and titles of your employees.

Labeling your org chart with employees’ roles and titles is a crucial step that adds nuance to the information being presented. Try visually adding boxes for different titles, roles, and levels of supervision.

It can be easiest to work from the top down.

Regardless of the structure you use for your org chart, you should consider which roles and titles should be in proximity to one another. For example, it makes sense to house your HR department in one general area, rather than to move your department heads to one area and separate support staff elsewhere.

Check your titles and reporting structure against any hiring paperwork, salary reports, or an existing company playbook. Before you distribute the org chart, you might also want to ask your managers and supervisors to check your work.

Step 5: Save, download, and distribute your org chart.

Once you are your team is satisfied with the way your organization is being represented, you can save and download your chart.

Your new org chart will help you streamline communication, increase accountability, and incentivize knowledge-sharing.

A wrestler lifting a belt above his head and saying, "We did it!"

Ready to build your org chart?

With a little time and some business brainpower, you can build out a clear and succinct org chart by following three simple steps.

  1. Gather the names and titles of staff.
  2. Pick a tool that you’ll use to put your org chart together.
  3. Select a layout that represents your organizational structure.

It’s easy to do on your own, but if you need some extra help, we can coach you through it.

Keep some of these tips in mind as you get started:

  • Your org chart is most helpful if everyone is included. Don’t forget to ask your department heads and supervisors to double-check your work. They can help make sure that no one is left behind. 
  • Make this easier by picking software that you feel comfortable using. Hate using spreadsheets? Don’t use one. You can try using word processors, presentation programs, or your favorite business playbook software. 
  • Remember to represent your organization in a way that is true to your business structure and workplace dynamic. 
  • Remember to keep your org chart up-to-date and accurate. As your business grows and changes, your org chart will too.

Once it’s done, don’t forget to share your hard work and keep your org chart somewhere accessible, like in your business playbook.

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How to Create a Startup Org Chart

July 19, 2022

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