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What Is a Functional Organization Chart?

Kristie Lorette
By Kristie Lorette
Updated May 16, 2024
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An organizational chart displays in a graphic format the roles of each position in the company and the name of the employee that fills the role. Organizational charts can be assembled in various formats. One of these formats is by function, which organizes the positions within the company by the purpose of the job or position.

The hierarchy of the company is laid out within the organizational chart. Each hierarchical level represents a piece of the puzzle or structure of the organization that the company needs to operate effectively and efficiently. By laying out the levels of the company in a functional organization chart, it allows the creator of the chart to assign precise and clear roles to each department in the company and to each individual that works in each department. It allows the viewer of the functional organization chart to easily see the positions in the business and what specific purpose or function each area fulfills.

It may seem as if a functional organization chart is separated into departments, such as marketing, human resources, operations, sales and research and development. This is precisely how these types of organizational structures work. It devotes one aspect of the business to an entire department, so that the marketing department and the roles within the marketing department all work toward the common goal of promoting and marketing the company.

The benefit of organizing a functional organization chart is that it makes it simple for all of the employees working for the company to understand. This type of structure also focuses the objective or purpose of the function, role or department to be clear and precise to those working in and out of the department.

In other words, employees working in the marketing department know and understand their role in the company. Within the functional organization chart, there may also be subcategories or subspecialties that fall within the function. Using the marketing department, one employee may focus on print marketing, while another focuses on social media marketing. Individual employees in the marketing department may even focus on a specific product or product line.

The primary drawback with a functional organization chart is that it can create dividing lines between departments and employees. Rather than having everyone work for the common goal of making the company successful, the “that’s not my job” mentality can creep into the minds of employees. In turn, this can cause a conflict between departments.

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Discussion Comments

By ceilingcat — On Jul 18, 2011

@Azuza - That sounds embarrassing!

A friend of mine was recently put in charge of making one of these at her company. She's been practically tearing her hair out over it! Trying to figure out what everyone's job description exactly is has proved difficult.

However, I will tell her your story and remind her that once she finally finishes it the chart will probably really help someone!

By Azuza — On Jul 18, 2011

A functional organization chart sounds like it would be a great job aid to give to a new employee of a big company. I know I've had several jobs where it would have been really helpful to know who in the company did what job.

At one job I worked at, I made a mistake that could have been avoided had I had a chart like this. I asked someone higher up in the food chain that I was to do something that was completely "beneath" their job description, according to the individual in question.

In doing so I committed a major company no no and it took me awhile to get my credibility back after that.

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