Your behavior is contagious to employees

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Don't Let Toxic Coworkers Infect Your Office

Your attitudes and actions will spread like the flu to your team. Make sure you're only passing down productive and positive ones.

As the flu and various viruses spread around your office, you should know that illnesses aren't the only contagions. As a leader, your behavior is highly contagious.

Jack Zenger, CEO, and Joseph Folkman, president of leadership development consultancy Zenger/Folkman, write in Harvard Business Review about their new study looking at how 51 different behaviors were transferred from leaders to managers to employees.

As a CEO, you already know how much influence you have over your company, but Zenger and Folkman found that positive behaviors, like integrity, honesty, decisiveness and performance, can be passed from manager to employee. The same is true of negative behaviors, like dishonesty and poor communication skills.

The study compared 360-degree assessments of 265 pairs of managers and direct reports to determine the correlations between the behaviors of managers and employees. Out of 51 behaviors, they found 30 behaviors with "significant correlations."

Zenger and Folkman found that if you're a subpar manager you "erode" your direct reports' engagement levels, as well as the levels of the employees working for them, thanks to a "trickle down effect."

But it's not all bad. Zenger and Folkman say positive behaviors are also highly contagious.

"Happily, the converse is also true: if you're a great boss, that engages your team and your team's teams," they write.

RELATED: How to keep your diet in the workplace

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Your behavior is contagious to employees

Find a work mom or dad. 

Everybody is familiar with the work wife: the woman or man in your office who exists to keep you company, gossip, and tell you when your shirt is see-through. The work mom/dad is like that, but mean. Beauty editor Kathleen Hou suggests finding a person who is willing to both straight-talk and side-eye you when you go to grab even the smallest crumb of coffee cake. Your work mom is tasked with yelling sternly, "DON'T EAT THAT OR YOU'LL REGRET IT." They are brutal but they love you, somewhere inside of their dark hearts.

Photo: Getty

Get snacks diverted to another area of the office, far, far away from you. 

When asked how to avoid the inevitable ground zero in the office where all the good snacks get left for free nibbling, one Cut writer explained that at a former job, the snack table was situated close to her desk. How did she handle this constant source of temptation? "I lied and said I'd gotten a request from building management that all snacks had to be kept in the kitchen." You too can become a liar — for your health.

Photo: Getty

Locate other dieters and start a shaming Slack/chat channel. 

Right before the start of the New Year, myself and two of my less-attractive colleagues started a private Slack channel dedicated to our commitments to either "getting skinny" or just not eating like total slobs every day. It's a good place to shame your colleagues into eating better. When one member of the channel explained that she'd broken her strict wellness plan by "ordering a milkshake," we both seized the opportunity to boo, heckle, and yell at her until she wimpered. No pain, no gain.

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Don't rely on salad to keep you full. 

Susan Rinkus, the Cut's extremely knowledgeable health writer, advises "eating real meals if you want to avoid the dreaded Magnolia cupcake later," meaning not the pathetic work salad but not Chipotle either. Hearty grains and proteins and lots of leafy greens. But if you're craving that Magnolia cupcake (or thousands of them), don't deny yourself the pleasure. "Go ahead and take a piece of whatever is in the kitchen if you want it and then effing enjoy it," Rinkus told me. "Beating yourself up is no good and food guilt/shame can actually lead to weight gain."

Photo: Getty


You need it. Find a way to be constantly working out at your desk. Twitch incessantly. Tap your toes. Play air drums. Run laps around your cubicle. The more energy you expend, the more calories you can consume. Last I checked, typing is not aerobic exercise but burpees in the office kitchen are.

Photo: Getty

Unfollow all snack-based Instagrams. 

Were you salivating at the thought of getting a cake with Drake lyrics on it? Do you often find yourself scrolling mindlessly through SAVEUR's perfectly curated Instagram page? You're not doing yourself any favors, just unfollow them all. Alternately, you can pick up some new follows in the way of health and wellness bloggers, but are you really that hard up for new ways to make your eyes roll out of your head? Stick to the good meme accounts and leave it at that.

Photo: Getty

Quit your job. 

You never really liked that job anyway and this diet thing is a real drag.

Photo: Getty

Run away to Guadalajara. 

You quit your job and stopped dieting, so now you're going to have a lot of free time. May as well get the hell out of this town of sad dreams and broken promises.

Photo: Getty

Never come back. 

You may be in Guadalajara but you never have to worry about nibbling on raw almonds while Cindy goes on about how far she ran this morning ever again. You love it here. You start a new life. One night you wake up in a sweat having dreamed about promising your work mom that you'd never eat Munchkins again. Look around you: You're free. Smile. Life is good. Every day's a cheat day.

Photo: Getty


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