The Org Chart is Dead; All Hail the Org Graph

Posted by Walt Brown on Feb 19, 2020 10:15:00 AM

When you get right down to it, your company’s organizational chart is probably useless. Before you get defensive about it, you should know that it probably isn’t your fault, and that org charts are a fundamentally flawed device. Ideally, org charts are constructed to show the relationships between the roles within an organization, and therein lies their fatal flaw. Rather than showing the relationships between roles, org charts are truly only designed to show the preferred relationships between titles within an organization’s hierarchy.

You may be asking what the problem with this is, and particularly if your organization appears to be functioning smoothly. Well, within the realm of project management, there is a concept known as scope creep that occurs when the intended scope of a process begins to deviate from the original intent that was designed at the onset of the project. The soon-to-be-finished product that was once obligated to perform only one task upon its completion is now being asked to fulfill two additional functions because stakeholders of the project used their influence to manipulate the process. As a result, the finished product is incapable of performing its intended task reliably, and also performs two additional tasks poorly.

Within businesses, job creep is a similar problem that affects far more businesses because of the ease with which it is able to occur. Despite holding the title of an executive assistant, an employee might be gradually asked to perform low-level market research for the advertising team, maintain spreadsheets for the finance team, and schedule appointments for the sales team. According to an org chart, this worker might report to the CEO or COO of the company, but on a task-by-task basis, they would feel obligated to answer to as many as four different individuals.

In cases like this, job creep often results in organizations where job responsibilities are not clearly and publicly assigned to workers, and where no one is completely certain as to which employees are performing which tasks. Moreover, the lack of clarity connected with whom is reporting to who regarding which duties can manifest itself in very frustrating ways. Consider the scenario of a department manager who doesn’t receive the requested work of a subordinate because an ostensibly senior manager in an entirely different department has asked that worker to perform a task for him. Not only is it illogical and confusing, but it is likely to cause resentment between several employees, and across multiple departments. Also, the org chart is helpless to keep situations like this from unfolding, because most org charts fail to adequately record job duties.

In order to prevent confusion and job creep within the workplace, an Org Graph is a vastly superior tool to an org chart. In its most basic form, an Org Graph will allow you to clarify and clean up the duties performed by each position. In many cases, communicating with employees to learn the tasks they feel they are responsible for fulfilling will reveal inefficiencies within your organization, and help you to reassign duties to their rightful holders. The Org Graph will help you answer questions like:

  1. What is the Purpose of my Job?
  2. What Positions do I fill as part of my job? What is the Purpose of
    each Position?
  3. Who do I report to?
  4. Who is my Mentor?
  5. Who do I turn to for Coaching in each of my Positions?
  6. What are my Objectives?
  7. What are my Key Results?
  8. What Teams am I part of?
  9. What Meetings will I attend?
  10. What Workfows do I participate in?
  11. What Processes will I follow?
  12. What Systems do I interface with and need to master?
  13. What Entities (clients, projects, contracts, etc.) will I interact with?
  14. What Skills or Competencies do I need now and in the future?

However, an Org Graph can do far more for your organization, because it is constructed with employee measurement and development in mind. By using the Org Chart to identify the long-term objectives associated with every job, you and your employees can flesh out the significance of each job to the greater mission of the business. Also, you can use the Org Graph to assign mentors to your employees so that they know who to approach for education and assistance designed to help them with the execution of each job.

Finally, the Org Chart makes it simple for employees to identify the skills they need to acquire in order to occupy the positions they desire to fill in the workplace. Once all of the responsibilities of a position are made publicly available for everyone in the workplace to analyze, your workers will be able to self assess and recognize the areas in which they need further development before they can ascend to higher levels within your organization and attain the titles they desire.

In its basic form, the Org Graph will help your company to become more efficient simply by identifying workflow problems and clarifying responsibilities. When taken one step further, it becomes a powerful tool to drive employee engagement, recognition, accountability and ownership across your entire operation.

Topics: Accountable, Measured

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