Org Chart Templates: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Every employee, from workers on the front lines all the way to the C-suite, wants to believe their efforts are important and appreciated. Yet, a recent survey by AttaCoin found that only 53 percent of employees feel appreciated.
In a glass-half-full kind of way, that means a majority of workers feel content that they are being recognized in some way for their efforts. Pessimistically, that’s far too many unhappy, underappreciated employees that businesses are contending with. And considering that an Office Team survey, as reported by , revealed that 66 percent of underappreciated workers are willing to quit, the stakes are high for ensuring employees feel adequately valued.
To be fair, many organizations are not intentionally underappreciating their workforces. The sheer volume of work prevents employees, especially supervisors, from fully knowing who is doing what and—perhaps more importantly—who is at the heart of a successful project or successfully accomplishing a goal. Org charts and the templates they are built upon can reduce this problem, but often, they don’t help or they sometimes contribute to the problem.
Org chart templates offer an incredible way to increase employee engagement, identify opportunities, and create a culture of collaboration<, communication, and yes, appreciation. But not every org chart is created equal—the best provide incredible benefits, and the worst can be detrimental. To borrow from the Clint Eastwood classic (go ahead and whistle the theme to yourself as you read this if you want), here is a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in org chart templates:
Org Chart Templates: The Good
Dynamic, interactive org chart templates and software deliver a range of features and conveniences to give users detailed insight into the people they work with. The good aspects of the best org charts include:
- Real-time data that enable employee engagement: Employee information from HR systems is automatically kept up to date in the org chart. When new employees start their jobs, they are immediately added and given access. Employees can quickly become valuable contributors after learning who’s who and who does what. This can make a huge difference in employee engagement and organizational strategy alignment.
- Updates are easy or automatic: As mentioned, automatic updates simplify managers’ tasks of updating org charts and reduce the time and effort of matching the right information to the right employee.
- Layers in people planning: Showcase to be hired roles across the organization inside of the org chart and help get future roles filled faster. Have separate org charts that can be collaborated on for succession planning and future growth plans.
- Adopt best practices: When you’re using a template for your org chart, or software that provides a base template, you’re automatically incorporating valuable best practices (including the items above)—no need to reinvent the wheel. However, approach templates with a critical eye (see The Bad and The Ugly below)
The great thing about good org chart templates is that once you become comfortable with the software (and with the best solutions, that won’t take long), you’ll use it in ways you never thought possible. For example, if you are organizing a team for a new product launch, you can build a chart that includes current employees (listing which strengths and skills they will bring to the team, as well as what development they need before joining the team) and empty slots where you may need to look outside of the company—all weeks or months before the team officially begins work.
Now for the bad: There are some org chart templates out there that simply don’t offer the functionality you need to be successful If you see some of these negatives in a solution you are considering, don’t hesitate to look elsewhere:
- Lack of sharing options
- No opportunities to connect to internal HR or IT data systems
- No automatic data updates
- No option to create private versions for collaborative people planning
Sure, some of these bad solutions may look fantastic, but you need to look beyond appearance to what an org chart truly offers in terms of functionality and ease of use. Don’t settle for an org chart that is difficult to use. Choose a solution that looks great and offers unlimited potential.
Be ready to avert your eyes, because here comes the ugly of org chart templates. Many companies and managers will attempt to create their own org charts in PowerPoint, Visio, or Excel. They may even find a template online and use that to map out department structures. These options are severely lacking for many reasons:
- They are poorly designed or just plain vague. PowerPoint is designed for presentations and slideshows, not employee management. By using this or other static applications for org charts, you are forcing a square peg into a round hole, trying to extract functionality from a program not designed for what you are attempting.
- Typically, org charts based in PowerPoint, Visio, or Excel are rarely updated by management and staff. Plus, multiple copies of an org chart could be floating around the office, so the file you open might not be the most up-to-date version. It’s hard to trust whatever version your team may find.
- If you are using a downloaded template, can you fully trust that the download is free of viruses and malicious code?
An argument for these ugly choices is that any org chart is better than none. But that’s not true—if an org chart is consuming your time, doesn’t help with communication and collaboration, and is potentially full of outdated, erroneous information, your organization will suffer. The preferable choice is selecting an org chart template that is easy to use, includes a rich set of features, and looks great. Select the good, and you’ll wonder why you ever considered the bad or the ugly.