PowerShell - Get users reporting to manager

4 minute read

The problem

One request we receive rather frequently is to create groups containing all users in a specific reporting chain. In other words groups containing all users reporting to Manager 1 and all their direct reports recursively.

While this kind of reports is usually available through any decent HR software, like Workday, getting this kind of information out of Active Directory poses some unique challenges.

While we can get direct reports of a specific user via the DirectReports AD property like this

# Get user direct reports
$paramGetADUser = @{
    AuthType   = 'Test-User'
    Properties = 'DirectReports'

Get-ADUser @paramGetADUser | Select-Object 'DirectReports' -ExpandProperty 'DirectReports'

# Output
CN=Test\, User01,OU=Admin,OU=Users,OU=Admin,DC=automatuon,DC=lab
CN=Test\, User02,OU=Admin,OU=Users,OU=Admin,DC=automatuon,DC=lab
CN=Test\, User03,OU=Admin,OU=Users,OU=Admin,DC=automatuon,DC=lab

But this only solves half of the problem as if any of the above users has direct reports it will not be shown in the output. Once solution would be to get all direct reports, cycle through them and recursively get direct reports.

While a valid approach it is inefficient and not so elegant at least for my personal taste.

Get management report chain - Approach 1

If like me you are lucky enough to have access to OneIdentity ActiveRoles (once Quest) cmdlets the Get-QADUser has a -Manager parameter that effectively works like the above example.

What is so special about the cmdlet is that we can turn it in a recursive function to get the full reporting chain (if you’re wondering yes I’ve already done this)

function Get-ReportChain
        [Parameter(Mandatory = $true)]

    # Find all direct reports for identity
    Get-QADUser -Manager $Identity | ForEach-Object {

        # Output direct report

        # Call function on each report
        Get-ReportChain -Identity $_

Get-ReportChain -Identity $managerUser

As you can see function is really simple, it will accept a user identity as input and will use recursion to find all direct and indirect reports of the user.

This approach served me very well and I’ve been using it in my automation solutions for quite some time. Only drawback is, as I already mentioned, for this to work is you will need access to Active Roles cmdlets.

Get management report chain - Approach 2 (The native way)

A little know fact is that Active Directory schema has an OID named LDAP_MATCHING_RULE_IN_CHAIN which does exactly what you’re thinking of giving us the full report chain. Let’s see it in action.

# Define user DN
[string]$ceoUser = 'CN=ceo\, user,OU=Users,DC=automation,DC=lab'

# Define LDAP filter
[string]$ldapFilter = '(manager:1.2.840.113556.1.4.1941:=$ceoUser)'

# Same as above just with full DN declaration
#[string]$ldapFilter = '(manager:1.2.840.113556.1.4.1941:=CN=ceo\, user,OU=Users,DC=automation,DC=lab)'

# Get report chain
[array]$allUsers = Get-AdUser -LDAPFilter $ldapFilter

As you can see we can easily query the OID via standard LDAP filter specifying the user DN using Get-AdUser cmdlet which is included with the Active Directory module. The best part is yet to come, this is blazing fast! In an environment with over 15.000 objects getting the full report chain from the CEO down to the most humble IT peon, me, it took a whopping 20 seconds to run the command all of this from a VPN connection.

This method works great, but what if you don’t have or cannot install the AD module for some reason? Don’t despair, there is a third way which we’re going to explore in a second.

Get management report chain - Approach 3 (The poor man’s approach)

If for some reason the active directory module is not available on the machine where you need to run your code you can still leverage .Net to achieve the same result

# Define user DN
[string]$ceoUser = 'CN=ceo\, user,OU=Users,DC=automation,DC=lab'

# Define LDAP filter
[adsisearcher]$searcherObject = "(manager:1.2.840.113556.1.4.1941:=$ceoUser)"

# Set paging size to return all results
$searcherObject.PageSize = 200

# Get report chain
[array]$allUsers = $searcherObject.FindAll()

The above is equivalent to the Get-AdUser method as, under the hood, PowerShell is using a DirectorySearcher to retrieve results for us.

There is much more to this accelerator but I’ll leave exploration to the reader’s curiosity. As a reference here’s how the object we’ve just instantiated looks like

CacheResults             : True
ClientTimeout            : -00:00:01
PropertyNamesOnly        : False
Filter                   : (manager:1.2.840.113556.1.4.1941:=CN=ceo\, user,OU=Users,DC=automation,DC=lab)
PageSize                 : 200 # This is very important as if not set only fist 1000 results will be returned
PropertiesToLoad         : {}
ReferralChasing          : External
SearchScope              : Subtree
ServerPageTimeLimit      : -00:00:01
ServerTimeLimit          : -00:00:01
SizeLimit                : 0
SearchRoot               : System.DirectoryServices.DirectoryEntry
Sort                     : System.DirectoryServices.SortOption
Asynchronous             : False
Tombstone                : False
AttributeScopeQuery      :
DerefAlias               : Never
SecurityMasks            : None
ExtendedDN               : None
DirectorySynchronization :
VirtualListView          :
Site                     :
Container                :

Closing thoughts - Which method to use

When developing some automation solution I try to use native tools as much as possible to make code portable and implementation easier. This does not imply that I consider using modules or external binaries a bad practice, far from it, but we cannot give for granted they will be available on all servers where our code will run and trust me in some environments something as simple as installing a module can be a real pain.

As a personal suggestion I would say if the AD Module is available on the system go for Method 2 which will give you the best performances with the added flexibility of PowerShell native cmdlets.

Note: I have created a function called Get-ReportChain, about which I will write soon, that you can already find contained in my IT-ToolBox Module

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