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Org Chart

The Power of Dotted Line Reporting on Your Organizational Chart

Organizations use dotted line reporting in the organizational chart context. When done correctly, dotted line reporting can be a great win-win for everyone

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An employee might have more than one manager or supervisor for specific projects. This structure is called dotted line reporting. It can be useful when different teams need to work together. 

However, companies need to do it right so everyone knows who to report to.

This blog post will answer "What does dotted line reporting mean?". We'll also share some best practices to implement it effectively.

What is Dotted Line Reporting

Companies use dotted line reporting in the org chart context. A dotted line manager is a person to whom employees report on specific projects or as a secondary supervisor.

An example is when an employee in the marketing team is assigned to work on a product development project. The employee now reports to the marketing and product managers in this case.

The dotted line on org chart indicates that the product manager is now the secondary supervisor of the employee.

The key features of dotted line reporting include shared duty, accountability, and communication. 

  • Employees who work under this structure need to communicate effectively with their supervisors.

  • They should ensure their work aligns with the goals of both teams. 

  • Dotted line reporting encourages collaboration and knowledge sharing between teams.

  • This structure leads to better decision-making and problem-solving.

    Dotted line reporting in Agentnoon's org chart:

Follow the steps in the video on how to use dotted line reporting in Agentnoon


Agentnoon has the ability to represent solid and dotted-line reports. The video above is a guide on how you can show dotted line reporting in Agentnoon's organizational chart software.

Click here to check out Agentnoon's org chart software with the capability of dotted line reporting

The importance of dotted line reporting

The reporting structure provides benefits to organizations because:

  • It helps keep the company organized. 

  • It lets employees clearly understand the chain of command and who they report to.

  • It encourages collaboration within a company. 

  • It allows employees to collaborate on projects requiring cross-functional expertise or resources. 

  • It promotes better communication and coordination between teams.

  • It creates a more efficient and effective workflow.

Dotted Line vs. Solid Line Reporting

Dotted Line vs Solid Line Reporting
Difference between dotted and solid line reporting.

Dotted Line Reporting

This structure is a way to have another supervisor help out when the main one is unavailable. It can help save resources during tough times, especially economic downturns.

Dotted line reporting is also becoming more standard when cross-training is necessary. It's typical when employees from one team work with those from another. 

As a result, this reporting structure offers more upskilling and reskilling opportunities. Employees can learn new skill sets while working with other teams.

Regardless, organizations may face challenges when implementing dotted line reporting. It includes:

  • Confusion among employees and management

  • Decreased productivity and increased burnout

  • Misuse of resources

When companies have too many managers and different ways of reporting, it can be confusing for everyone on the team. Moreover, having unreasonable work from individual managers can cause stress and reduce employee productivity.

Solid Line Reporting

Solid line reporting indicates a connection between managers and their direct reports on an org chart. This reporting structure represents a more traditional management relationship. It is common in hierarchical organizations where clear lines of authority and accountability are necessary. 

Organizations that need strict supervision to maintain quality control and safety prefer solid line reporting. This structure is typical in companies with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

However, solid line reporting can create an inflexible organizational structure. Other challenges can be:

  • Decreased creativity and innovation

  • Restricted collaboration among employees

  • Formation of a top-down culture

  • Disengagement and low morale

  • Increased delays and inefficiencies

Dotted Line Best Practices

Here are three best practices to help you create an effective org chart using dotted line reporting.

  • Set up guidelines

The company should have guidelines to decide when secondary managers are necessary. It’s also crucial to encourage communication between all relevant parties. 

For example, consider establishing a system in which both the second-in-command and the boss are copied on all communication channels on an employee's work. It will promote transparency and enable everyone to stay in the loop.

  • Clarify authority

Employees and managers must understand their roles and responsibilities clearly.

Each business has its regulations set by its managers. Workers and managers must identify whom to turn to for performance evaluations and discussion of project milestones.

  • Set clear dates

In the org chart context, companies use the dotted line reporting structure to denote a temporary relationship that will conclude once the project is completed. 

This can be a valuable tool in certain circumstances. Still, it is crucial to ensure that all parties know the project's duration to maintain clear communication.



Dotted line reporting is a strategy that can help companies encourage teamwork and creativity. There are some crucial steps that need to be done to make this structure work.

First, it's crucial to create clear guidelines and responsibilities for employees. In addition, getting all the managers on board with the plan is vital.

When done correctly, dotted line reporting can be a win-win for everyone involved.

About Agentnoon:

Agentnoon is a workforce planning and org design software for responsible growth. We help you visualize all your people data in one place.

Let Agentnoon supercharge your org design and workforce planning. Contact us and learn how to set up dotted line reporting effectively!

Dave Kim

Dave Kim

CTO, Agentnoon


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