Constructing an organizational chart


   All organizational charts have similar elements that allow them to be easily interpreted and understood by people inside and outside of the organization. Charts consist of shapes and lines that represent work units and their hierarchy. See Figure 1 for an example of an organizational chart.

   The basic building block of an organizational chart is the rectangle, which can represent a person or a work unit (e.g., a department). For example, as shown in figure 1, the CEO position has a separate rectangle that denotes one person, but the entire Public and Community Relations Department is also represented by one rectangle. If the outline of the rectangle is dashed, this means that a position is open and must be filled, as with one of the manager positions. If a rectangle is divided, and two or more names are in it, this may indicate job sharing or that multiple people are responsible for the outcomes associated with this position. In the figure, W. Allen and P. Lloyd are comanagers in one area of the Production and Services Marketing Department, where they have a job sharing arrangement and each works part-time hours.

   The boxes may contain as much or as little information as the organization prefers. They may include a job title, an employee's name, an employee's department, or even information such as job tenure, education, or salary. Alternatively, a chart may be created without rectangles, with names or titles standing alone. The three employees in the Public and Community Relations Department are listed with their names not in rectangles. This often is done to save space on the chart.

   Rectangles on an organizational chart are linked with solid or dashed lines. A solid line indicates a formal, direct relationship and a dashed line indicates that one employee or department advises another or has some other sort of indirect relationship. Note that all but one of the reporting relationships in figure 1 are formal. L. Jiminez has a dashed line to the Product and Services Marketing Department, which means that she sometimes will work for that department or will report to that department's manager. When lines represent a tree structure-when two or more rectangles are linked to another with multiple lines-this indicates that several individuals or departments report to one supervisor. For instance, the tree structure represents the relationship between the CEO and the three top managers who report to the CEO. Finally, a rectangle that is attached horizontally outside of the vertical hierarchy typically indicates an assistant or staff person. In the example, this is represented by the executive secretary to the CEO.

   While organizational charts can be created by hand, most are created using computer software. Although it may be labor intensive, organizational charts can be created using drawing tools in a word processing program. Microsoft's PowerPoint presentation software allows for the creation of organizational charts, although there is little space available to create large charts. Specific software exists for creating larger, more complex charts, and there are many different packages available for purchase. Some examples are OrgPlus5, ConceptDraw V, SmartDraw, and Abra OrgChart. These software programs allow for quick and easy chart creation with point-and-click menus and automatic resizing and alignment. Many of these software programs also allow one to easily download charts into a word processing document, a presentation, or a Web site. Other features available in these programs include the ability to insert employee photographs, as well as information from other human resources computer programs, directly into charts.


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