Early in my tour, I had a fairly cynical outlook on matters of watchstander integrity. When a watchstander would be required to perform a repetitive, monotonous, and often pointless task, such as an hourly log of a never-changing parameter of little to no importance, I would assume that he would probably “blaze” the log (also known as gundecking). This assumption would be made from a sympathetic standpoint, as in, I can’t blame him for blazing a pointless log– I’d probably blaze it too. I did not hide this pessimistic outlook. I presented it not as an indictment of the watchstander, but of the institution failing him by unrealistically tasking him with pointless nonsense.
It wasn’t until later that I realized what kind of damage I was doing. I had completely ignored the principle that performance trends toward expectations. I had only been thinking of myself, and not wanting to appear naive. I did not consider how my attitude would affect the honest watchstander who in fact did take his logs, correctly, every time– to him, my cynical attitude is a slap in the face.
My insult to the honest watchstander was double-sided– not only had I assumed that he’s lazy and dishonest for no reason, but I’d also rendered all of his hard work a waste of time and effort, robbing him of the satisfaction of a job well done. I had validated the poor performer, and punished the good performer.
Assume your sailors are performing with integrity, then validate that assumption. It’s not an insult to expect exceptional performance– its an insult not to.