Allocating employees to an org chart

Allocating employees to an org chart

Michael Gerber and I are in complete agreement on this point–before you start to hire, you need to have an idea of  what your business’ organization chart looks like.  Where will people be working?  Even if “people” = “your first employee.”  (Entrepreneurs with corporate experience have lived with org charts all their working lives.)  Depending on the nature of your business, you will have larger or smaller staffs in the various boxes.  You may also have some branches not shown here; “research and development” come most quickly to mind.

(COO is Chief Operating Officer, or the person in charge of the work that happens IN the business.)

Org charts help people decide and/or tell you, “Where you do you want to work?”  People who really want to work in Sales are generally not happy in Finance, and people who love HR are, at least most of the time, less happy in Facilities.  As a rule.  Not that people don’t change, but it’s a place to start.

Organization Chart

Generic Organization Chart

Once you business grows large enough that you have at least one person working in every “box” in your org chart (trying to stay away from the obvious connection to “think outside the box”), you will be faced with a different decision: what do you want to work on?  Microsoft presents the choices like this on their recruiting website.

Technical options for career paths

Where do you want to work?

Technical path options at Microsoft

What do you want to work on?

(In these screen shots, the highlighted option indicates that the rest of the page discusses jobs available in that arena. The positions in the second menu are available in the category of “software engineering” on the first.)

Once you create one branch on your org chart, you get to decide whether to create another: does each product line need its own marketing team?  Will you be hiring someone to market widgets, or thing-a-ma-bobs, and how different are the two products?  (Could be the answer is, “Very,” depending on who buys which item.) Or is marketing all one thing, responsible for all of your products? (Guess what–you’ll get the same questions from HR pretty quickly, with Engineering telling you that they don’t hire the same way that the people in Sales hire.)

In the beginning, all you need to do is to know that you have an org chart, even if your name is in all the boxes, and then to have a rough idea of which parts of that org chart belong to the new employee.  Big business makes and remakes the second decision–how to divide and allocate supporting business units–all the time.  Reorganizations are built on this question.  Some years, it’s fashionable for all of marketing to be centralized.  Other years, revenue-producing units are believed to be more productive if they are fully autonomous and have their own support staff.

Living through more than one of these pendulum swings is reason enough for some corporate employees leave big business and decide to become entrepreneurs.