If you’ve ever looked at a family tree, you’ve seen an example of an organizational chart, but it's more common that you'll see an organizational chart of a business. These diagrams help you visualize the people or elements of your organization and the relationships between them. Organizational charts, or "org charts," improve connection and understanding across teams.
While most people use org charts to visualize the management structure of a business, they can illustrate any hierarchical system. You can use them to display how the topics in a field of study are related, to explain which spin-offs sprouted from which television programs, or to map how everyone in the office found out that you’re such a huge Spice Girls fan.
Creating an org chart with Gliffy — and making it look professional—takes only minutes.
The Basics of Making an Organizational Chart
Most organizations have one person in charge—such as a CEO. That role or person will be the top of your chart, with roles and power flowing down the diagram from there.
Start by opening the ‘basic shapes’ section of your Gliffy Shape Library. Drag a rectangle to the top center of your canvas and simply type in whatever title or text you want to appear in the box. Frequently, this box will include a job title and the name of the person holding that title.
Next, drag in rectangles for each second tier manager and place them below your top-level rectangle. Use the connector tool to link your top rectangle with each of the rectangles in the second level.
Beneath each of these managers, you’re going to repeat the process to include all the people who directly report to each second-tier manager. Then do the same thing for those that report to those people and so on until you’ve got your whole organization plotted out.
If you have a lot of employees to diagram you may quickly find it necessary to abandon the horizontal, expanding pyramid structure for a more compact style, which combines a horizontal layout with a vertical one. In this variation, all employees linked off of the same descending line are considered to be at the same hierarchical level. Laying out an org chart this way saves a ton of space.
Creating an Org Chart: Advanced Org Chart Examples
As you build out your org chart, you may encounter a few situations that you’re not sure how to diagram.
Designate Open Positions
If your organization has an unfilled position, you should still include it in your diagram. Drop in a box just like any other, enter the position’s title, and then instead of entering an employee’s name, write ‘to be hired,’ as we’ve done for the Director of UI position above.
Show Multiple Leaders & Managers
If your company has managers who share duties, you’ve got a few options. Most common is to place the two listings alongside each other and connect them with a horizontal line—as with the joint CEOs above. Their shared reports descend off the line that connects them, while employees who are only managed by one descend directly from that manager’s box, as illustrated above.
Other options include connecting co-managers with double lines — as seen above with the Director of Marketing and the Director of Sales.
Capture Dual Duties
If an employee primarily works for one manager, but reports to another for other duties, use a dashed line to connect that employee to his or her occasional manager while keeping them under the primary structure for their most frequent manager.
Include Personal Assistants
Personal assistants usually fall outside of a normal chain of command. They report to someone on a higher tier than other employees, but those employees don’t report up to them. Illustrate this by including personal assistants on a spur off to the side of the line that connects their manager to his or her other reports, as we’ve done with the Engineering Assistant.
Designate Shared Positions
If one position is split between two part-time employees, enter both names in the same box, separated by a slash — as we’ve done for the two employees in charge of Usability above.
Creating an Org Chart for a Large Organization
Sometimes the organization you’re trying to diagram is too large to fit neatly on one org chart. If this is your situation, apply one of these solutions:
- Summarize: Instead of listing each low-level employee, group them all by title and indicate how many of them there are — as we’ve done with the External Team assisting the CFO above.
- Extend: Create a number of org charts that nest together to represent the entire organization. For example, you might make an executive org chart and separate org charts to illustrate each department under an executive. You can attach links to the additional diagrams, making organizational charts easy to navigate between.
PRO TIP: If you're nesting various org charts together, layers is a great way to keep everything together.
Ready to get started making your own dynamic org chart?