Call out the elephant in the room. “We both know that you won’t necessarily always work here…” can be the phrase that really opens up your dialogue with your employees and shows that you’re treating them as adults, not assets.
How does today’s action create long term value? Want your team members to get better at something? Frame the discussion around their long term value in the marketplace. Every rep has a stock price and that stock price is either going up or down.
Commit to them. Tell them that you want this to be the best place they’ll ever work, and that you’d like to be remembered as the boss who made them better at their craft. Then do what you say.
Put the relationships in long term context. Will there be a network of people out there who speak well of them in the future, or a network that’s felt slighted, overlooked or abused?