Jef Lippiatt Owner at Startup Chucktown
This question covers a lot of ground, but I'll try to give you a few concrete ideas.
- Genuinely thank people for their effort - don't make this a robotic process. You don't need to thank everyone every time they do their job (that's their job after all). However, when someone makes a great effort (regardless of if it works out) recognize their effort and work. When someone does something great acknowledge it (to them individually or at a team or company level - but make sure they are comfortable with public recognition before you blurt it out to everyone - so people aren't a fan of public recognition).
- Give people a bit of margin during the workday / work week - Perhaps its a percentage of time (like Google's 20%) or several hours a week. Give them this room to read industry related articles, take online courses to further their learning or just the time and resources to work on a personal project that fosters learning and can maybe have strategic advantages for the company down the road.
- Don't make failure a threat - people that take risks can definitely help keep your business going forward (I'm not speaking of anything illegal or anything that would make the company look bad). If you can teach people to learn from mistakes and failure and turn that into a better solution or process going forward, that is still a win. Treat it as such. If failure is penalized, people will only do the bare minimum and that won't be good for your business in the long run.
- Get to know individuals & what motivates them - First you need to know your people to create a good relationship. Second you need to understand what motivates them. This helps when it is time to give an award. They may want a monetary bonus. Perhaps they'd be happier with an extra day or two of vacation. Maybe they are just looking to make a leap from a regular position into management. Get to know everyone and reward them with what motivates them individually.