Interview with Roz Hunter: Manager, The Body Shop

Interview by Tom Dotz and Al Wadleigh

When Roz Hunter joined The Body Shop in 1980, in Shropshire, England, the company was only a cottage industry. Now the franchise chain has grown to international acclaim. Tom Dotz and I interviewed Roz about her NLP experiences at the NLP Comprehensive Summer Residential Training in Winter Park, where she was coaching the NLP Practitioner Certification Training.

Tom: So how did you get into NLP?

Ros: That was through The Body Shop. My friend Rachel Tucker, who has been in training for the last ten years in The Body Shop, invited me along to a communication skills training that she was doing at the time for people like me who had been in the company for a long time. This training was awful! She picked me up at the end of the day and she said, “I’d really like to come and see you and we can talk about this because it didn’t work, did it?” and I said, “No it didn’t.” So she came along about a week later for two hours at ten o’clock in the morning and she left about a quarter to six. Somewhere around lunch time, she casually mentioned that she’d dropped something into this training called Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which I’d read about but didn’t think I understood well enough to train with it.

Rachel gave me a brief outline as to the people that started it and what it was about and something just clicked. However, when she said to me, “I can lend you a book,” I thought, “Uh, oh! I don’t think I could read a book called Neuro-Linguistic Programming!” So she sent me the book and I put it in my office at work and then I took it home and put it in the kitchen and then I moved it into the bedroom and eventually it went back to my office at work. When I got a phone call from Rachel saying, “I’m coming to see you in two weeks,” I thought I’d better read the book! That was the beginning. I opened the book and couldn’t put it down. So I took the Practitioner Training and it wasn’t a case of when I might go and do Master Practitioner, it was a case of that’s what you do next! All of this time I was reading and reading.

That was where the skills and the essence of NLP really started to work for me. I wanted to start the Trainers Training and I did. At the end of the Trainers Training, I said to my trainer, “So what do you think I should do now? This is the end of my formal training, I want to learn more. I think if it’s possible I want to make a career of this.” He said, “Well, Roz, have you ever thought of being a coach at the NLP Comprehensive Summer Residential?” So, I coached with NLP Comprehensive and when I got back to England last September I started to put the wheels in motion to start my own training company, which I did in January. I’ve been very fortunate because The Body Shop supported me, knowing that I wanted to move into a different area.

Al: How has NLP been a part of your working with The Body Shop?

Ros: On a personal level, I found that it’s given me a great sense of my own competence. NLP has taken me beyond: I’ve focused on each skill that I use for running the business, broken it down, built it up again and added more skills to make it even better. So on a personal level, I know that I perform to a better extent now than I did before NLP. As far as the people I work with, it’s given me a greater understanding of human beings and a sense of how to get the best out of those people. The Body Shop is a company that cares for people so we take the trouble to look after our staff. I’ve trained certain staff members in specific NLP skills; particularly, I’ve worked with managers to make them more focused on examining what they do, break it down into little pieces, notice what they are doing, build it up again, improve their skills. So the whole business has benefited from my training and my interest in NLP.

Al: Is there any kind of measure of how your businesses functioned compared to other franchises?

Ros: Visitors from Body Shop International tell me that the business I run is an outstanding one in terms of how I measure performance.

Al: Can you think of a specific example where your NLP skills helped to change colleagues’ behavior to make them more successful?

Ros: I can actually take that back to my friend Rachel. She came to see me one morning despondent, unsure and demotivated. I used my NLP skills in talking to her and when she left me, she said, “I didn’t know where I was going, I just knew I was leaving and now I’m going to stay and I’m so pleased that I saw you today and that we talked.” I was able to re-frame her experience in such a way that she was able to notice her value. Because she is the essence of the company. We’re two of the longest standing members of the staff and we have a passion for the company. So on that occasion, I was able to refocus her attention on what she’d achieved, how she’d been able to move the company forward and how valued she is as a trainer. She’s now one step from the head of the Learning and Development Department.

Tom: So basically you were able to form the company’s point of view? Save a very valued and long-term employee from burnout and possibly leaving the company, in just a couple of hours?

Ros: Yeah, in just a couple of hours.