When you are new in an organisation there is a fair chance you may not know much about its sections. A good new starter package will give you details of the organisation structure and who leads each section.
Understanding the various sections in your workplace can give you two immediate beneifits:
In some organisations the structure changes regularly. An employer using modern systems will probably provide you with an online chart that is powered directly from their central system. This saves you from having to keep a paper copy which could become out of date and also saves administrators having to remember to issue new copies.
Organisation charts are important to large organisations that have specialist areas and need these to work together in a co-ordinated manner. Think of a structure as a grouping together of different jobs into teams or sections that work together. If you just remember one message please let it be that different units in the same organisation must work together in a co-ordinated manner. The opposite can be quite terrible.
Some modern thinking suggests there is a need for leaner companies with fewer layers. In the example on this site we have deliberately simulated a university so that you can see a complex multi-layered structure.
Why use a made up university and not manufacturing, construction, retail or some other type of organisation you might ask? The answer is that everyone will hopefully be able to find something in a university that they can relate to.
We can stop here. If you have understood this and the sample organisation chart then you now know enough about organisation structures to explain with confidence the basics of groupings into specialist areas and parent and child relationships.
If you are a person who wants to work in a team that administers organisation structures there are some matters that you might wish to think about. It is important to always understand the human sensitivities that underpin information management.
Each top level organisation unit is headed up by a person who is responsible for that specialist area. This person in theory then sets out and agrees the sections that report to them and the heads of those areas can in turn set out further sections within their areas. It is very easy for orgnaisation structures to appear like military hierarchies, this may not always be helpful in some environments.
The above could go on through many levels. A problem with this is the fact that it requires a high level of maintenance. The more levels in an organisation the more work needs to be done to keep them up to date. Imagine how embarrassing it would be to be referring to a team or a section that stopped existing the previous month or year. So even though systems allow the creation of many levels it is probably best to try to keep to five or less in any one specialist area.
Looking closely at specialist areas it is sometimes possible for a manager to decide that some sections or teams would benefit from being merged together. This is handled by way of a reorganisation and can at times mean that areas of duplication are removed from the structure. It looks logical on paper but the effects on people can be massive if jobs disappear or change. Good practice is for managers to always ensure that people have been spoken to and given a chance to comment about or even better contribute to major changes that might happen.
One of the larger difficulties is how an organisation determines which sections fit within specialist areas. It can be difficult if someone suddenly notices that they are actually part of a specialist area that is headed by someone they strongly disagree with. What does the organisation do? Does an upset person have the authority to demand that their section is made a seperate specialist area in its own right? or does the organisation just say this is the way it is get on with it?
And finally an interview question and answer for anyone planning to be a systems administrator.
Question: You are asked over coffee one evening to adjust the organisation structure, what would be important for you to remember before proceeding?
Answer: Systems administrators should avoid changing the organisation structure without the appropriate authority. The request should normally be in a format that you can keep for future reference. Why is that an issue? I leave you to ponder that.
If you are planning to get into a systems administration role here is a little bit of background on how data gets displayed in an organisation chart.
The information on each of the organisation units is stored in a database.
A database is simply an organised collection of information. In this context we are referring to a computerised database.
A call or query to the database brings back a series of rows of data which show each unit's name, its code and the code of its parent. It is actually that simple. The web page then draws together each of the top level parents and associates them with their children and children of their children and so on.
When displayed on the web page each sub level in a relationship is indented slightly so that there is a visual indication of parents and children.
Below is a live extract from our database of the very top level of the sample organisation. Look carefully at the unit codes and the parent codes and get familiar with the relationships. Note how the top unit has no parent, then notice how for example the top unit's code is the parent for its immediate children.
|Unit Code||Unit Name||Parent Code|
|100001||University of Small Bites||0|
|100028||Corporate Support Services||100001|
|100077||Faculty of Arts and Humanities||100001|
|100106||Faculty of Law||100001|
|106398||Faculty of Medicine, BioScience and Psychology||100001|
|100158||Faculty of Science and Engineering||100001|
|100166||Faculty of Social Sciences||100001|
|100051||Corporate Affairs and Planning Division||100028|
|100041||Estates and Facilities Division||100028|
|100059||Human Resources Division||100028|
|109331||Information Technology Division||100028|
|100197||Residential and Commercial Services Division||100028|
|100029||Student and Academic Services Division||100028|
Table showing an extract of some rows from the database
From looking at the extract see if you can work out which section the Finance Division is within (i.e. which section is the parent of the Finance Division?), then check on the main page to see if you are correct.
The Employment Rights Act 1996 underpins contracts of employment in the United Kingdom.
The terminolgy to use is a written statement of particulars of employment. This summarises the main particulars of the employment relationship and must according to the legislation be given within two months of the person's first day of service.
Whilst the law states two months it would actually be poor form to encourage a person to give up an existing job or prior state of affairs without actually presenting them with the contractual terms of their new role until two months after it has started. The law is quite flexible but if we are truly focused on the quality of the engagement with the prospective member of staff the written statement of particulars really should be issued as soon as possible after the decision to appoint has been made.
Issuing the written statement of particulars at the earliest point means the person is aware of what they being contracted to and can clarify any uncertainties before accepting. Starting a relationship in this manner where possible helps ensure a more harmonious contract.
The key aspects of a written statement of particulars are as follows:
An explanation of the symbols used
|This icon represents a unit that has child units. Click it to see the child units.|
|This icon means that a unit has its child units visible. Click to close the child units.|
|Unit name||Click on a unit to get more information on it. If the unit has child units it will open a page showing them too.|
|Clicking this icon takes you to some basic theory on organisation charts and structure.|
|This button is Collapse All and when clicked closes all units that have been opened up.|
|This button is Expand All and when clicked opens all units so you will see every aspect of the tree.|
Welcome to the free website for people who want to learn about the technology used for keeping staffing details in offices. Using this site you can learn as much from the comfort of your arm chair as you could in two years at work. Here is your chance to practice with systems that you may only have heard about. Get a behind the scenes view of what happens with your information and how it is stored.
This site is aimed at people from school leaving age and above who may be interested in working with what are known as Human Resources (HR) information systems.
If we can help even one person to secure a job in HR or specialise in HR systems as a result of using our free development site then the creators of HRMISolutions and Learning in Small Bites will have achieved what we set out to do.
You will get the best out of this site if you have:
The structure is the frame or spine of an organisation.
If you have not worked anywhere before feel free to ask anyone you know about the structure of the place where they work.
A place of work might be broken down into departments and departments might have teams. Other models have a break down into divisions, then departments then sections.
There are lots of different ways that organisations can be structured, all that is suggested here is if the place of work employs more than ten people it is likely that there is at least one lead person and some areas of specialisation that need to work together in a co-ordinated manner.
Our model will be a fictitious university (it does not exist). It has five faculties, a central support service and an office for the vice-chancellor who is the head of the university. We will use this structure throughout the site.
Below is a made up organisation structure for you to use. Click away below on the icons     and get used to seeing parent and child relationships and different sections of an organisation.
To learn about the icons used in the organisation chart please