AIM Investments is a mutual fund company that is located in Houston’s Greenway Plaza. Founded by Ted Bauer in 1976, the company has grown from a handful of investors and employees to one of the leading fund companies in the United States with over 2000 employees. This paper will describe the organization’s structure, the communication processes within the organization, and suggestions for solving communication problems. AIM’s organizational structure, as a whole, appears to be dominantly based on the Classical approach.
Its strong structure, division of labor and vertical hierarchy are clearly visible in its printed organizational charts. At the peak of the company’s hierarchy is the parent company, AIM Management Group Inc. , which is the holding company. The five operating subsidiaries- AIM Advisors Inc. , AIM Capital Management Inc. , AIM Distributors Inc. , Fund Management Company, and AIM Fund Services -horizontally fall below the parent company. Within AIM’s transfer agent subsidiary, AIM Fund Services, there are eight departments.
Direct Support Services, Dealer Support Services, Quality Support Services, EPIC, Cash Management/Retail Alliance, Client Services, Correspondence and Retirement Support Services have different, but equal responsibilities within AIM Fund Services. AIM Funds Services does not stray from the vertical hierarchy. At the top of the AIM Fund Services organizational chart is the president of the subsidiary, to whom the vice presidents of each department report. Our focus will be within Retirement Support Services. Retirement Support Services’ organizational chart does not differ much from the other subsidiaries.
The department is made up of six groups; Automation, Listbills, Transfer of Assets/ Rollover, Surgical Strike, Technical Resources and Processing. Each group, headed by an assistant vice president or manager, has from one to four teams. A team consists of 7 to 12 representatives, ranging in levels from II to V, who report to an assistant supervisor and supervisor. The supervisors have direct formal lines of communication with the manager or assistant vice president. Management attends several meetings weekly to discuss uniformity in policies and procedures and to ensure unity of command.
Each team member in every group has formal written job duties and descriptions of policies and procedures. Policies and procedures for processing specific types of requests along with job duties for each level of employee are clearly written on the company’s intranet for all employees to access. Retirement Support Services is a very-task oriented environment. The overall responsibilities of the group emphasize task accuracy and efficiency. Quarterly bonuses and career advancements are dependent on surpassing the written quality and efficiency levels and accepting additional responsibilities.
Employees who produce at the minimum levels are not awarded with bonuses. Even though the structure is clearly formal and vertical on paper, the atmosphere and people display characteristics that set the tone for a Cultural or Human Relations environment. The employees all are dressed in business casual attire, which is as liberal as the written dress code guidelines. Business suits with jackets and ties as well as hosiery are optional; however, gentlemen must wear collared shirts and ladies are prohibited from wearing open toed shoes.
On this particular day, jeans were allowed for “Go Texan Day, which is just one of the many themed activities and rituals displayed in the office. Banners, paper-weights, coffee mugs, mouse pads and many other paraphernalia display the subsidiary’s slogan, “We do it right, the first time, on time, every time. ” The AIM Investment logo and slogan, “Invest with Discipline” is on everything from pencils to golf shirts. Each team is proudly displaying their individual team names and teambuilding projects. The culture here appears to be very focused on teamwork.
The department shows Humanistic characteristics by holding weekly group specific meetings complete with representatives, assistant supervisors, supervisors, manager or assistant vice president and vice president (on rotation). During these meetings, management presents new policies and procedures, updates and goals. The representatives have an opportunity to speak on issues, offer suggestions and ask for clarification in an open forum. Biweekly team specific meetings are held with supervisors, assistant supervisors and representatives to discuss work ethics and team related issues.
Retirement Support Services as a whole holds a formal quarterly meeting to update all groups on progress, goals and give out awards for productivity, quality and team players. Group meetings even stretch beyond the parameters of Retirement Support Services. The entire subsidiary, AIM Fund Services holds a formal quarterly meeting in 2 different time slots with the same informative objectives. To go a step further to make sure all employees are kept informed of the company’s progress, goals and objectives, a company wide formal quarterly meeting is held in 3 different time slots and televised to remote locations.
All facilitators speak in conversational dialogue on all meeting levels with each meeting ending in the “open door policy” or “feel free to email or met with me or your supervisor if you have questions, concerns or suggestions. ” Human resources classes such as “Who Moved My Cheese,” “How to Balance Work and Home,” are offered along with many other services and training classes through the company to display the humanistic approach of the company. The company’s founders wrote a book titled “People are the product” and issued each employee an autographed copy.
The operations subsidiaries take on characteristics of a social systems school. Some areas are dependent on others. The company’s mailroom is responsible for feeding the work to the different departments. Once processed in the various departments, the completed work is output to the clients in appropriate form through the company’s control department or rejected through the correspondence department. If any of these groups encounter a delay or increase in work volume, then all departments are equally effected. The climate of communication is reliable and positive. Open superior – subordinate relationships are valued and encouraged.
Superiors appear to be communication oriented. Although open forum meetings are popular for groups and teams within the organization, personal superior- subordinate communication is heavily dependent on email. In effort to keep the employees informed, emails marked “urgent” or impromptu meetings are held to channel immediate and major changes within the organization down to subordinates. In meetings superiors encourage subordinate participation. During monthly and quarterly reviews, superiors appear approachable to set a tone for open dialogue and offer constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement.
Sensitive to the needs of subordinates, superiors offer flexible work schedules and approve time off to assist with balancing work and family. Although communication between superiors and subordinates appear to be very strong and open, both feel that the entire communication process itself can be overwhelming. The open forum meetings create constant debates and are sometimes unproductive due to “round table” discussions. The abundance of meetings of both superiors and subordinates cause a strain on the workflow process. Subordinates joke that AIM should be an acronym for “Always In Meetings.
Subordinates feel the mundane of management in meetings has taken superiors completely out of touch with the processes and tasks for which they are required to govern. The constant need for consensus creates lack of credibility for superiors to make individual decisions, thus negatively affecting the downward communication process. Subordinates are forced to develop stronger peer relationships in order to resolve issues in completing tasks. Subordinates feel that superiors are overwhelming them with constant emails of changes in policies and procedures to processes for which they no longer have first hand experience.
In conclusion, there are three areas for which Retirement Support Services could improve. Reducing amount of time in unproductive meetings, increasing hands on processing by superiors and reducing amount of unnecessary communication will improve workflows and superior-subordinate relationships. The should superiors assume stronger, yet not overbearing, leadership roles when facilitating meetings to ensure productivity of the meeting thus reducing the number of follow up meetings and email updates to pending issues.
Solicit possible agenda topics and proactively prepare researched answers to reduce amount of spontaneous issues and follow-up. This will reduce extended meetings and need for follow up, increasing time for face-to- face interaction with subordinates and involvement in workflow. Lower level management, such as supervisors and assistant supervisors actively participate in the everyday processing tasks as often as schedule permits. This will reestablish working credibility with subordinates.
Finally, superiors should reduce the amount of unnecessary information that is channeled to subordinates. Keeping subordinates of possible and immediate changes becomes ineffective if it is not organized and too spontaneous. Designate on person to be responsible for communicating the information the group when information is thought through thoroughly and can be presented concisely. Too many emails from different sources on the same issues are interpreted in many ways or could be so overwhelming that is disregarded altogether.