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5 Examples of Reporting Lines

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Reporting lines are elements of an organizational structure that specify how authority, accountability and responsibility are allocated in an organization. These are depicted as the lines in a organizational chart as follows.

Solid Line

A solid line relationship indicates that one person directly manages another. The person closest to the top of the hierarchy is the manager.

Indirect Report

In the case of solid line reporting it is understood that anyone who is below you in a hierarchy is an indirect report such that even if you aren't directly managing them you have authority over their work. For example, a sales director who has sales managers as direct reports and the entire sales team as indirect reports.
In the example above, the sales associate is a direct report of the sales manager and an indirect report of the sales director.

Dotted Line

Dotted line reporting indicates a situation where an employee reports to multiple managers. The employee always has at least one solid line that indicates the manager who is primarily accountable for their work and processes such as performance management. Dotted line reporting often involves a percentage allocation such as a product engineer who devotes 30% of their time to supporting a sales team.

Matrix Organization

A matrix organization uses dotted line reporting on a temporary basis for projects and initiatives. Employees still directly report to a manager but are allocated to projects. This resembles an internal consultancy.

Flat Organization

A flat organization is an organization without a tall hierarchy. This is done where the size of the firm is relatively small and where employees are self-directed professions who don't require much assistance and oversight.
Overview: Reporting Lines
Type
Definition
Relationships in an organizational structure that specify how authority, accountability and responsibility are allocated in an organization.
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