My Coat Went To The Theatre Without Me

Not a sentence I would expect to say very often: my coat went to the theatre without me. But that’s exactly what happened the other day!

Having had a very nice meal at a lovely restaurant, my friend and I went with our hanger tickets to collect our coats from the receptionist, who had put our coats in a cupboard. However, mine wasn’t there! It transpires that someone else had claimed my coat, having not been given a ticket and so was just asked which was hers! She had then left a very expensive coat behind. Which was interesting, as mine was a very standard black (and shall I say, cheap) rain coat.

Obviously, I wasn’t too happy. It was drizzly outside and I no longer had a coat. But what then happened, is really the reason for this article.

The receptionist was reprimanded for her mistake. OK, fair enough. But then her manager must have criticised her half a dozen times after that (and in front of me, and other diners).

The receptionist was mortified, and kept apologising to me. Now, after realising what had happened, and getting a heartfelt apology, that was enough for me. They were looking to rectify the situation and they were learning so that it wouldn’t happen again. To me, there was no need to keep making her feel bad – she was obviously beating herself up enough as it was, and her confidence was wilting in front of me.

What are you like as a leader if one of your team makes a mistake? Could there be a blame culture, where people are worried about admitting mistakes? Or are you encouraging learning lessons, to work out ways to improve, and to accept that mistakes happen to everyone.

As a leader, whether you like it or not, you are responsible for the outcome of your team and therefore you want to proactively support, challenge and develop them – not scare the daylights out of them. With the knowledge that mistakes can happen along the way, leaders can provide a non-threatening atmosphere to review what caused it and how to avoid it happening again.

Nobody wants to make a mistake, but they are also valuable tools to help us develop. I’m sure we have all made mistakes that we have sworn we will never, ever do again, and have learnt a valuable lesson from! And we were probably hard enough on ourselves, without the need for a manager to go over it time and time again.

So, what happened to the coat?? Shortly after it disappeared, the restaurant received a phone call from a lady who had discovered her phone was no longer in her coat pocket. When they asked her if she had the right coat, she realised what had happened!!

One of the restaurant staff then took her coat to the theatre she was at, and brought mine back. And in the meantime, while I was waiting, I received a very nice chilled glass of bubbly, and the promise for another bottle the next time I came in! Good customer service from the receptionist!

Karen has worked in leadership and coaching roles for over 20 years, within the Financial Services industry and with blue chip/FMCG companies, and now uses that extensive customer-focused knowledge, combined with being a practitioner in Applied Neuroscience, NLP and the MBTI, to provide client-specific coaching through Assiem Ltd.

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