Overcoming “Org Chart Writer’s Block”

This is the first installment in helping you fully develop and implement Org Charts and Position Agreements, which support a culture of ownership within your business.

There is a certain point in every business when you realize you need to organize your people more effectively. And it can happen with as few as five employees—although it’s even better if you recognize the need when it's just you, the owner.

To start with, let’s see why this is important. Which of these issues show up in your company today?

  • Everyone reports to you.
  • People step on each other’s toes, trying to do the same tasks.
  • Things fall through the cracks because no one picks up certain tasks.
  • There's no true teamwork—your company resembles a soccer team of 6-year-olds all chasing the ball.
  • Employees operate too independently.
  • As the owner, you are the Conductor, directing everyone’s work daily.
  • As the owner, you are at the beck and call of every employee, deciding on a price for that item or where to order lunch.
  • You only “sense” that your employees are doing poorly, or doing great work.
  • You have a high turnover rate because your employees are uncertain of their status or future.

Does that help you to get started? Good!

As I work with my coaching clients, I’ve seen this scenario repeatedly:

You review the information on how to develop an Organization Chart, and with your juices flowing you look online to find the best Org Chart tool, or pull up PowerPoint and find an Org Chart template, or ultimately get out a piece of paper and draw a box at the top titled CEO.

And then you stare at the box.

Here’s a method my clients have used to get over this 'Org Chart writer’s block'—to make it more real for themselves, their business and their employees.


Get Your Supplies

It’s low tech, I know, but sticky notes have some amazing functionality. Grab:

  • A stack of at least one hundred 3”x3” sticky notes.
  • Colored tape flags, or smaller stickies in other colors to use as markers.
  • Your favorite pen.
  • A large table, or better yet, a blank wall.


Identify Your Business Activities

Your goal is to identify and record every activity that should take place in your business for you to achieve your vision.

Write each activity on a single sticky note. Here are some guidelines:

  • Each activity will be something that is done completely by a single person at one point in time.
  • Start by thinking about the activities each employee does, including yourself.

Now, what isn’t getting done, but you want it to someday? Here are some categories we call the Seven Dynamics, to help you form a complete list:

  • Leadership: What should be done regularly to ensure you are moving toward your vision?
  • Brand: What should be done regularly to ensure your company activities are true to your brand?
  • Finance: What activities should be done to manage your assets?
  • Management: What activities are related to hiring, training and supporting your employees?
  • Marketing: What activities help generate leads or draw in repeat customers?
  • Sales: What activities are needed to take a lead or prospect through to the close of a sale?
  • Delivery: What activities happen once a customer is sold?


Organize Your Business Activities

Now it’s time to use that wall. Your goal is to put the sticky notes in groups that eventually represent a position in your company, that is, a job that would be done by one person.

  • Identify spaces on the wall for the main “departments,” such as Sales and Marketing, Operations, Administration or Finance. Don’t forget to put the CEO at the top!
  • Place the sticky notes in groups under each main department, where the same activities may be done as part of a bigger role.
  • Use the colored tape flags to mark out certain activities, such as those that are not currently being done yet. Or anything else you want to flag.
Example Organization Chart
Here's an example of a sticky note org chart from one of my clients.

You now have the flexibility to move the notes around, to group and ungroup, and most importantly, to get the whole picture of your business in one view. You can start to organize positions and identify the handoff task from one position to the next, such as the Sales position to the Order Fulfillment position. Use them as a way to communicate the big picture to your people or to collaborate with your managers. Keep these sticky notes up as long as you need to in order to try different options with your people.

And before you take them down—look at the list of issues at the beginning of this blog. How are you doing now?

Topics: Managing Employees, Leadership

A Guide to Creating Your Org Chart: Download the Guide
Janet Beatty

Written by Janet Beatty

Janet loves what small business does for its customers, employees, and community. She focuses on getting to the heart of your issues or opportunities to help you make the important changes needed. Janet is a certified EMyth Coach, teacher, workshop facilitator, and speaker. Learn more about Janet.

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