How to create an organizational chart (with free templates)

Team Asana contributor imageTeam AsanaSeptember 8th, 20216 min read
facebooktwitterlinkedin
Organizational chart article banner image

Summary

An organizational chart outlines how your company functions in real time. This diagram shows the reporting relationships between job titles and the roles in your organization. We’ll explain the different types of organizational charts and provide free templates for you to customize your own.

You’re having a family dinner when your grandma pulls out the family tree. She uncrinkles the piece of paper and traces her name down the line. As she searches, her finger lands on a name. “See! There he is, right next to your cousin Charles!” She points to the name of your third cousin, proving that this name matches that of a famous poet. 

Like family trees, organizational charts help visualize where you and your team members fall in relation to each other. An organizational chart, also known as an organogram, is a diagram that outlines your team structure and shows the reporting relationships between team roles

In this guide, we’ll explain how to make an org chart, the different types of organizational charts, and provide free templates so you can customize and build your own.

How to make an organizational chart

An organizational chart is a way to visualize your company’s structure. To create an org chart, you’ll need to gather team member information and decide how you’d like to build the chart. 

As you consider the reporting relationships in your organization, you can plan your chart from top to bottom. 

Organizational chart example

1. Define scope

You can treat your organizational chart like any other new project you work on. Defining the scope of your org chart can help ensure it clearly represents your team structure. The scope will determine the overall purpose of your organizational chart.

Consider these questions to get started:

  • Will your org chart act as a resource for team members to know who’s who within the company? 

  • Will you share your organizational chart with external stakeholders or partners? 

  • Will you need multiple charts for different levels of the company? 

Asking these questions from the start can help you gather the right information and map out your chart.

2. Gather information

Gathering information is the most important step of making an organizational chart because without the right information, you won’t be able to proceed.  You can gather information by surveying individual team members through email or working with your HR department. 

You’ll need up-to-date information about the people in your company, including their latest job titles. You’ll also need to understand reporting relationships throughout your company. Consider gathering headshots of your team for added personalization.

3. Decide how to build your chart

Deciding how to build your organizational chart is crucial because different tools can make the process easier. Drawing out your org chart by hand isn’t time efficient and will make your results hard to share, so consider harnessing the power of a tool for this process. 

Using an editable PDF can save you time because the template is pre-built with placeholders. You can then easily share the PDF with the rest of your company. 

4. Plan for updates

After creating your org chart, use a team calendar to plan for regular updates. After all, it’s likely that your company structure and team dynamics will change often. 

People switch in and out of positions and reporting relationships may also change. With a digital org chart, it’s easy to update the structure and redistribute it to team members.

Organizational chart templates

Creating an organizational chart can be easier when building from a template. Most companies follow similar structures, whether it’s a top-down structure or a matrix structure. 

You can use the organizational chart templates below as jumping-off points. To create your custom org chart, start by downloading one of the templates below that best represents your company structure. Then, fill in the labels to fit your unique team needs.

Download company templateDownload team template

Types of organizational charts

There are four common org chart types and each one represents a different way that a company might function. An organizational chart is a visual translation of your company’s internal structure, so the chart type you use should mirror your organization’s reporting relationships and decision-making procedures.  

Types of organizational charts

1. Functional top-down

A functional top-down org chart is the most common structure, with the company functioning as a hierarchy. At the top of this organizational structure there is one team member, who usually has the title of president or CEO. 

Branching off from that team member are the leaders who are next in charge, like the company vice presidents. The hierarchy extends further into departments and eventually branches into teams. 

2. Matrix organizational chart

The matrix organization is a more complex structure than the traditional top-down design. If your company uses this reporting structure, team members report to multiple managers. 

While employees likely have a primary manager they report to for their department, they may also report to a project manager. These secondary project managers also have department managers they report to, which makes the matrix org chart look rectangular instead of tree-like. 

3. Divisional structure

A divisional organizational structure is a high-level version of the traditional hierarchical structure. Divisional structures make sense for companies that have departments working independently from one another. 

For example, companies with separate product lines may work in divisional structures because each product line has separate IT, marketing, and sales departments.

4. Flat organizational chart

The flat organizational chart is unique because it shows few or no levels of management. This type of organizational structure may be present in a small business or a modern business that’s experimenting with no chain of command. 

With this type of organizational structure, the company promotes wide-spread team member self-management and decision-making. 

Read: 6 tips to build a strong organizational culture, according to Asana leaders

How to use an org chart

You can benefit your company by using an organizational structure because it provides a visual representation of different departments and job titles in action. This chart can help team members understand how to collaborate with one another and feel confident in their role and responsibilities. 

Visualize reporting relationships

As a manager, you may use an org chart to show work responsibilities and reporting relationships to new team members. When onboarding new hires, the org chart helps team members get to know their fellow teammates and what they do. It also helps new team members remember who’s who within the company. 

Manage growth and change

Organizational charts can also help the leadership team stay organized and manage growth or change within the company. For example, if a department head notices that one team has become larger than other teams, they can shift or hire new team members to create balance.

See where everyone fits

An org chart creates clarity by showing everyone in the company where they fit in the organizational structure. If a new member joins the team, they can glance at the organizational chart and understand that they have five other members on their team, two assistants below them, and a project manager above them. They can also see that their project manager reports to a department manager.

Improve communication

Having an established organizational structure for your company can improve communication because it makes reporting relationships clear. Without an organizational chart in place, team members may not know who to go to when they have questions. The org chart makes it clear who leads what, so team members can feel empowered to ask questions and collaborate with others.  

Create visual directory

An org chart is essentially a visual directory of your organization. You can  update the chart when team members get promoted or when they leave. Keeping a visual directory up to date keeps everyone informed of who’s working at the company and what their current position is.

Read: Work breakdown structure (WBS): what it is and how to use it

Limitations of using an org chart

While organizational charts can increase communication among teams, there are limitations of using them. Knowing these limitations can help you find solutions to any potential issues before they occur.

Can get outdated quickly

Org charts can get outdated quickly as companies restructure and shift team roles. Team members must be mindful and keep the org chart updated with current company structure and staff names. 

Solution: Assign someone to regularly update and redistribute your organizational chart in order to maintain this valuable resource.

Only shows formal relationships

The organizational chart is a one-dimensional document, so it doesn’t offer much explanation beyond the reporting structure it provides. While it’s useful in visualizing the basic company structure, it only shows formal relationships. Many companies function and thrive on various informal reporting relationships that wouldn’t show up on a traditional org chart. 

Solution: Use an org chart as a jumping off point, but keep in mind there may be other working relationships that the org chart doesn’t capture.

Doesn’t display management style

While the org chart shows managers and the team members that report to them, it won’t show what each manager is like. For example, the org chart may show that one manager has two team members and another manager has five team members. Assumptions may be made that the manager with more team members is a stronger leader, but the org chart won’t show that the manager with less team members has a more hands-on management style

Solution: Use your org chart as a first point of reference, but be mindful that face to face contact is the best way to understand reporting relationships among internal teams.

Streamline your organizational structure with a chart

While there are limitations to organizational charts, these charts offer a helpful way to understand your company structure. It can also improve communication with upper management by clarifying roles and responsibilities. To build an organizational chart for your company, use our free editable PDFs and customize them as you see fit. 

Need help streamlining teamwork? Find out how Asana helps teams communicate effectively. 

Try team communication with Asana for free

Related resources

Article

The Eisenhower Matrix: How to prioritize your to-do list