It pains me to see so many organizations nowadays create an org chart but then tuck it away in the dark recesses of an intranet that no one accesses or in the back of a filing cabinet, bringing it out only a few times a year during reorgs or hiring planning. I always think, “What’s the point?” Why bother having an org chart in the first place if you’re only going to use it a couple times a year?
Now, you might be thinking, “Why are you so passionate about org charts of all things?” Perhaps you’ll catch my fervor when you stop viewing the org chart as a document and start using it as a critical business tool—a resource that can be used across the entire organization to bring ease to your life, your executives’ lives, and the lives of your employees.
Here are a few things you can do to get the most out of your existing org chart.
Make it Interactive, Collaborative, and Shareable
First and foremost, your org chart should live in a collaborative environment—and no, I don’t mean as a document on your intranet; I mean a purpose-built org chart application. This is the very first step to graduating your org chart from a dusty old document to a critical business tool.
If you’re currently printing your org chart each time you need it, stop! You should be able to easily share your live org chart with employees, board members, and even outside vendors such as recruiting firms by simply sending a link. Once your document lives in a collaborative, shareable, and interactive application, you can begin to change the way it’s used across the organization.
Think Beyond a Title, Headshot, and Hierarchy
Stop thinking of your org chart as a flat diagram whose sole purpose is to display the structure of your organization (2D boxes connected with lines). Your org chart should be a living application that represents the different dimensions of your employees, from their nickname and birthdate to the current projects/clients they work on, the sales regions they cover, and more.
This small adjustment will empower employees to be more resourceful, to be more connected, and to better perform their jobs. Say, for example, an employee writes copy on a new piece of technology and wants an extra pair of eyes to review the collateral. The employee can open the live company org chart and simply search for “copy editing” to find a coworker who is skilled in this craft. Employees who work cross-functionally on projects or certain client accounts can ensure that they never leave a coworker out of a meeting again by viewing everyone on a project or client account through the org chart.
Adding this functionality to your org chart will enable employees to perform their job much better than they would’ve been able to with a flat, static org chart. And the best part for HR pros? You don’t have to do the updating! Most employees will gladly add information about themselves.
Use It to Empower Employees in the Hiring/Recruiting Process
It’s probably not a groundbreaking insight to say org charts should be used in hiring and recruiting. Most HR professionals likely refer to their org chart often during this process. But consider using the org chart as a catalyst to generate employee support in hiring and recruiting, as well. In addition to ensuring your org chart is live and shareable, make sure it is constantly up to date with both occupied and to-be-hired roles. Then, encourage employees to routinely check open positions and refer their friends or colleagues. I’ve seen many companies also offer employee recruiting bonuses to incentivize participation in hiring and recruiting.
It seems simple enough to implement these methods, but you’ll find that a few small adjustments can dramatically change the way your company operates and effectively connects with everyone to get work done. And, perhaps more importantly, by sharing this live information company-wide, employees will start to feel more trusted by their employer, more empowered about the work they’re doing, and more connected to their coworkers. Not too shabby coming from what was once just a piece of paper, eh?
Bill Boebel is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of Pingboard. He previously was CTO of Rackspace Email and co-founded Webmail, the largest business-grade e-mail hosting company at the time. Boebel also co-founded Capital Factory, which helps entrepreneurs in Austin, Texas, build great companies.