A guide to bad bosses, by cult illustrators Modern Toss

Bosses come in every shape and size. There are, however, some who remain beyond the help of training or advice and will be forever awful. Here's a guide from cult illustrators Modern Toss on how to spot the managers to avoid.

Last Updated: 09 Jul 2013

1. The Narcissist Boss


You can spot the Narcissist Boss when you attend his industry event and he's booked his own indie band to headline. Of course, you should have guessed when you encountered a company simply named Shaun, which had a silhouette of Shaun's own head as a logo. Here even the slightest company achievement is seen as further evidence of the value of Shauning. Company colleagues, or 'Baby Shauns' as they're officially known, must crank up for work every morning by singing the Shaun song. It may be a nightmare for everyone but Shaun, but such desperate self-promotion does have one positive: a business achieves an enviable sense of togetherness when everyone, from the postroom to the boardroom, thinks Shaun is a dick.


2. The Wimp Boss


The Wimp Boss is endearing at first, as he bumbles his way through the introduction to how the place works. But it's not just eye contact he's avoiding: the Wimp Boss will also go as far as is humanly possible to duck from reality or censure. That's why he's still using the hole-punch as a puppet while the sales figures fall off the chart. And when the office is repossessed and he's operating instead from his mum's lounge in a vest and pair of jogging bottoms and still calling himself a company - and his poor PA is stuck sorting his Snickers receipts two days a week in order to feed her kids - she'll realise she should have quit while she still had a desk.


3. The Burnout Boss


Why is everyone still at their PC at 9pm? Thank the guilt that comes with working for the Burnout Boss, who'll be there past midnight. Presumably, they're helping assuage his own disappointment for never making it past county tennis, despite all those hours of serving practice he was forced into. The enemy of the Burnout Boss is the Christmas break: stripped of work, his fists clench as he sits staring uncomprehending at the smiley shapes on the TV, a faint internal cry of 'mummy' crushed under a towering lists of tasks that he's been banned from tackling. The Burnout Boss is on the board by 15, retired at 21, and dead by 30. Too right: the quicker we get life crossed off the to-do list, the sooner we can get to winning in the afterlife.


4.The Bully Boss


The law of the playground states that the bullied will become the bully. But it doesn't end there, as the Bully Boss has gone on to live a life of escalating tyranny and been richly rewarded: from climbing on her mates to her first promotion, to stripping other people's assets - whether that's tearing companies apart or snatching wedding rings from weeping execs in late-night poker bouts. Now the Bully Boss lords it over a department of subjugated souls, following them on a bank of CCTV screens as they scurry past her office door, humming the Weakest Link theme while she awaits Dressing-Down Friday. What she doesn't know is that her nemesis, the Bully Chairman, just got out of the lift on her floor...


5. The Territorial Boss


The Territorial Boss measures success in square-footage, so don't dream of entering his office without knocking. Never mind that it's a Portakabin in the car park - he's sweated for this. The plans on the desk aren't for the company when he becomes CEO, they're for where he's going to stick his fish tank when he gets the job. For now though he's got his Portakabin. And his shelf in the fridge. And his stapler. And his chair. And his parking space. All are duly marked. But this possessiveness extends to people too, and becoming his friend may have its benefits. But when he finally gives you a go in his chair, late at night, and proceeds to subject you to brutal tales of his divorce, you know you're only one step from having his name Tippexed on your face.

Modern Toss

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