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6 Simple Secrets to Know Before Building Your Next Org Chart

Employees and teams at successful companies rely on good, basic communication to achieve efficiency and productivity goals. But even at successful companies, that communication can bog them down. A 2012 study by McKinsey Global Institute found out just how much time some basic communication tasks can take:

The average interaction worker spends an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing e-mail and nearly 20 percent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks.”

Organization charts (org charts) would seem to be the answer to solving, or at least mitigating, this problem. Every organization needs an org chart, but to be truly effective, the chart must be something your employees want to use and can trust. Simply looking good isn’t enough—an attractive org chart that is difficult to use, that is outdated, or that doesn’t offer enough information on who is who and who does what isn’t helpful.

Related: Looking to revamp your outdated org chart and get your team actually  excited about using it? Download this free guide to learn everything you need  to know.

Great org charts must do all of the following:

An org chart with all these features gives you the power and versatility to better manage, communicate with, and maximize the potential of your coworkers. Here are six secrets that can take your org chart to the next level:

1. Use fantastic photos.

Being able to put a face to a name can help employees be more productive in their collaborations with each other. Therefore, it’s important to spend the time and resources taking decent-quality, even fun, photos of your workforce for the org chart. These pictures can showcase the culture of the organization, which is particularly helpful to new employees. Choose appropriate yet dynamic background colors; don’t be afraid to use fun filters; and ask employees to use props to give their photos added personality. In a rapidly changing organization, great photos on an org chart help more visually attuned employees stay informed.

2. Include more than job titles.

An entry in an org chart like “John Doe, Associate” says nothing about the person, much less about what he does for the company. Incorporate a robust range of details for each person on the chart, effectively creating a mini-biography that becomes a one-stop resource for employees to learn more about that person—much better than a paper directory ever could. For example, add an employee’s job responsibilities and projects he or she has worked on to the org chart. A great way to get this information is to include an “Ask Me About . . .” field to the form employees fill out when updating their org chart entries. They can then include short descriptions of their knowledge areas such as “Benefits,” “401(k),” “Payroll,” “IT Specialist,” “Website Design,” and so on. This also helps identify additional roles that simple job titles don’t immediately convey, thus letting employees connect the dots.

3. Look to the future.

Your current employees are your best source for referrals for candidates for anticipated job openings and new roles in the organization—and they may even want to be those candidates. By including upcoming openings in your org chart, your employees can see where the business is headed and learn the names of the hiring managers for those future roles. They, in turn, can discuss the opportunities with their supervisors well in advance of a formal opening. Even if a promotion or new hire doesn’t result, a relationship has been established that will ultimately strengthen the organization.

4. Allow intranet access.

Org charts shouldn’t be secret, difficult-to-find documents; rather, they should be accessible resources available to everyone in the organization, including remote and virtual employees. What software or infrastructure do you need to support this access? You can either embed a real-time, live version of the chart into your existing tools, such as your intranet, or share a static copy there. The best org chart solutions are live, delivering a far more reliable option than static Excel or PowerPoint documents.

5. Delegate responsibility for updates.

Organizations are rarely static, so their org charts must stay current to reflect job changes, new responsibilities, new teams, added skills, and so on. Delegating someone (or multiple people) to be responsible for these updates and defining how they should execute the task will ensure your charts won’t languish. Obviously, continual updates are ideal. Today’s live org chart solutions can make some updates automatically, even integrating with existing HR or IT platforms so that new employees are instantly added to the chart upon hire.

6. Plan for collaboration.

Finally, pick an org chart strategy that embraces collaboration. Often, org charts are built in a static document by one person, and then shared with others for feedback. Revision cycles become painful in this scenario. A live org chart allows feedback on the chart in real time, thus saving time and eliminating aggravation. The best software solutions let you invite collaborators to help you build an org chart that, ultimately, can become one of the most important assets of your company’s operations.

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Cameron Nouri
by Cameron Nouri
I am the Director of Growth at Pingboard. I consider myself an entrepreneur at heart. I love trying new things and taking educated risks on new ventures, both professionally and in my personal life. I bring that passion to work everyday where I enjoy helping others discover the power that Pingboard can unlock.