Just a few years back, I was  working in the office at 9 pm. I was swigging what must've been my fifth cup of coffee that night, and the numbers on my Excel spreadsheet were starting to blur in front of my eyes.

I was officially burned out.

I didn't know it at that time, but I was making wrong hiring decisions, and this made me constantly overwhelmed at work. I hired rockstars, but put them in the wrong roles. So in one department, we had all this talent going to waste, and in the next, people were going insane trying to cope with their workloads. Worse still, when mistakes happened, we didn't know who was responsible.

It took me months of firefighting before I realized a solution that was right under my nose: organizational charts (or org charts).

I know what you're thinking. "Org charts?" Well, if you just come up with a simple chart of a few key people and their titles, and never bother to update it ever again, you'll find yourself constantly fighting fires -- fires that are completely unnecessary. But if you see an org chart as a living, breathing document that you can use to make the best decisions, then you will set the right foundation for your company.

An org chart basically lists out all your employees based on hierarchy, and what each of their roles are. There are no hard and fast rules: it can be an electronic diagram, or it can be drawn out on a huge whiteboard (which is what we do at our company.) 

Here are a few reasons why org charts are so crucial to your company's growth:

1. It's a great accountability machine.  

By mapping out the responsibilities of each job in the company hierarchy, an org chart helps people understand exactly what they should do and shouldn't do in their role. With that, you'll never hear conversations such as "I thought you should be doing this...isn't this part of your job?"

2. You get a lot more done, faster.

With an org chart, you know who is responsible for what, and you can easily approach the right stakeholders and decision-makers. This means you'll make decisions a lot quicker. You won't be wasting time consulting the wrong people whenever you want to launch a new project, or redesign an existing process.

3. It empowers people.

An org chart is about creating a culture that allows people to do the best in what they do. Now that your employees have clarity about their job scope, they can be 100% focused on coming up with great ideas (which you can incentivize and reward.) If your team don't know what results you expect from them, how can they take any initiative to improve your business?

4. It helps you visualize the future of your business.

When mapping out your org chart, you can start thinking, "What am I good at?", "What am I bad at?", and the related roles you need for all that. Once you have the budget, you can then hire people who are better than you in things you don't want to do. The last thing you want to do is hire the wrong person: when I didn't have an org chart, I hired someone who I thought was great for what I needed, but it turned out I should have hired someone else in a completely different role!

For best results, place your org chart somewhere that's extremely visible, and update it every quarter or so, together with your employees. Here's to building that dream team in 2018!

Published on: Jan 19, 2018