3 Steps to Addressing the Blank Spaces in Your Organizational Chart
By Nico Hohman
Every employee currently working for a company - whether it's a small, medium or large business - has a job to do. Those duties and tasks were most likely laid out during the interview process, and most of those specific functions have stayed the same throughout that employee's tenure with the company. Then, to take it a step further, those that hired that employee also have specific jobs to do and they have specific people to report to. Moving up the ladder of responsibility, each supervisor also has specific jobs and functions they must perform and specific people they must in turn report to as well.
What do you do with a job description that just doesn't fit in?
To help employees better understand their roles and remind them who they should report to, companies develop organizational charts. Within any company that has more than one employee - be it a three employee sales office, a 30 employee retail store, or a 3,000 employee manufacturer and distributor, there will be an organizational structure to define the roles and responsibilities of each employee from the CEO to the receptionists. (See the title picture for an example of an organization chart.)
But, one thing you may not notice in an organization chart is all of the white space in between and around each person. Employees and managers typically function and perform well when their roles and their duties are defined and when they know who is their superior. But what happens when those roles and duties are not defined? What happens when a task may require two, three, or four different people or departments to have a hand in the decision making process? What happens when there is no clearly defined boss?
Here are three crucial elements to sort through when addressing any issue that pops up in the white spaces of your organization chart.
No matter the type of company or the type of industry, every employee, every supervisor, and every customer will benefit from clear, open and consistent communication. Secrets and lies are the bane of every decision made within a company. The more open a company is to have meaningful discussion, the better off is that organization. A company should encourage ideas and brainstorming. A company should never discourage or quell communication. When employees are free to express their thoughts and opinions, the more likely a company can come to the right decision that best fits everyone involved.
While communication may be the key to addressing any issue that does not directly fit into an organization chart, having thoughtful and motivated leadership can make a cacophony of ideas seem like a concise and clear message. If every department within your organization has come up with a solution to a problem on their own, it can be nearly useless if someone from each department does not head the charge to connect with the other departments within the organization. Then, once the organization as a clear message established, one leader should take the reigns to recite the message to the company's clients and customers.
Having a strong leader or leadership team deliver a clear message to any party involved in an issue can be rendered useless if the message falls on deaf ears. Essentially, your leaders have to make sure that those who are delivering the message truly believe in the message that they are giving. The general public and members of the press can pick up on messages that do not have any beliefs behind them. Think of the athlete or politician who must step to the podium and deliver the same humdrum apology every time they do something wrong. While the words coming out of their mouths are the right words on paper, they almost surely have no heartfelt intent.
On top of the level of care needed by those who are delivering the message, those messengers must also be sure to respect those to whom they are speaking. If a customer only cares about getting a complete refund on a product or service and a company is unwilling to give any compensation for an unsatisfactory service or good they provided to that unhappy customer, the company has failed. Instead, the company should understand exactly what the customer wants and provide them with exactly what they want, if possible, or provide a reasonable, respectful solution that can benefit both the company and individual. This goes a long way toward showing clients and customers that the company truly cares.
An organization chart is meant to keep duties, functions, and responsibilities for all employees of a company in check. However, when something comes up that does not fit specifically into a particular place on the organization chart, a company must make sure to have clear and consistent communication, thoughtful and motivated leadership, and a sense of care to all parties directly and indirectly involved. While you may always have the white spaces in your organization chart, the best companies know exactly how to fill them.