If you’ve ever looked at a family tree, you’ve seen an example of an organizational chart. These diagrams help you visualize the people (or elements) of your organization and the relationships between them.
While most people use org charts to visualize who manages whom in 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 interactive org chart with Gliffy — and making it look professional—takes only minutes.
How to: Org Chart Basics
Most organizations have one person in charge—such as a CEO or Grand Poobah or Darth. And just like power and memos, your org chart is going to flow down from this fearless leader.
Start by opening the ‘basic shapes’ section of your Gliffy Shape Library. Drag a rectangle to the top center of your canvas and click on it to select it. Once selected, you can just type in whatever title or text you want to appear in the box. Frequently that’s a job title and, perhaps, the employee’s name, too.
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. Traditionally, people use right-angled lines to connect up the shapes in an org chart, but you go with your own bad self.
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 this 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.
How to: Advanced Org Chart Examples
As you build out your online org chart, you may encounter a few situations that you’re not sure how to diagram.
If your organization has an unfilled position, you should still include it in your diagram. Draw in a box just like any other, enter the position’s title, but instead of entering an employee’s name, write ‘to be hired’ or something similar, as we’ve done for the Director of UI position above.
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 and employees who are only managed by one descend directly from that manager’s box, as illustrated above.
Other options include connecting co-managers with brackets or double lines — as seen above with the Director of Marketing and the Director of Sales.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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? Just click any of the images in this post — each an interactive org chart template — to open them in Gliffy Online.