The employee development initiatives in three retail banks are the focus of this paper. The discussion draws on recent empirical findings to examine the motives and expectations that underpin employee development initiatives, and the underlying assumptions which shape how such initiatives are implemented in practice. The perspective of the organisation in relation to employee development is further enhanced with findings from the perspective of the individual employee. These findings show the impact of employee development initiatives on individuals’ willingness to learn and take personal responsibility for their development. The analysis highlights the nature of the interaction between individual and organisational priorities within development and draws attention to some of the challenges that underpin employee development initiatives. The implications of these challenges for the way organisations design employee development initiatives in the future, and the way we think and research employee development are discussed at the end of the paper.
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