Positive Psychology in Practice in the DC Metro Area

Here at Positive Business DC we are always looking for organizations who are implementing positive psychology in the workplace.  As the nation’s capital we hope that we will set the trends for the entire nation.  We found one such company in the DC Metro area that needs a special mention.

Freddie Mac has been implementing numerous projects in the area of positive psychology, from lectures by Shawn Achor that are available for internal viewing on their website, to more intimate workshops in resilience and strengths.

I asked Michele Lockwood who is the Director of Talent Development what Freddie Mac interested in applying a specific approach to well-being that comes from research out the social sciences.  “We went to one company for change training and it wasn’t moving the needle.  To act as though change is a one-time thing is inaccurate.  Change training wasn’t as impactful in giving people the skills, the mindset to ride this train.”


Michele Lockwood

Freddie Mac has seen the effectiveness of the positive psychology programs they have implemented through their follow up surveys.  The DRH Group founded by Doug Hensch (formerly of happier.com and founder of www.drh-group.com) has been facilitating a very successful course called Five Secrets of Resilience.  The data on effectiveness is very strong.  92% of attendees agreed or strongly agree that they could use the knowledge and skills presented in the course in their job.  84% agreed or strongly agreed that they would be more effective in their role as a result of what they learned.  And 93% of participants said they would recommend the course to others.


Photo of Doug Hensch, Founder of myHappier.com

Doug Hensch, M.Ed.

Michele commented on what Freddie Mac thought of the different modalities of training:  “Shawn Achor is not as personal as a resiliency class. Training in person gets deeper and gets to more self-reflection but doesn’t get to as many people.”

They are also working with my organization, Plus Side Strategies (www.plussidestrategies.com), to implement a strengths workshop with their Women’s Cohort.  And what made Freddie Mac attracted to a focus on strengths? Lockwood replied:  “There is so much emphasis on what we do wrong, from media or audits or congress hearings, there is so much emphasis around what’s broken, we felt like people were losing sight of the positive and how much value they are bringing to their job and to the organization.  With the women’s cohort the object is not to fix them because they are broken, but to enable already high performing women. We need to keep looking forward and a focus on strengths helps you do that.”

The most notable comment came with a discussion of the expectations of the training.

“We were surprised with the reception.  When we first had Doug (Hensch) come in, we were not sure how people would respond.  After a pilot, we decided to offer the course on a larger scale with almost no advertising and it filled right up and continued to fill with wait lists mostly based on word of mouth.  We underestimated the appetite.”

There seems to be a burgeoning amount of support for positive psychology in business, especially now that the science is catching up with the practice.  Do you think it would be a good fit with your organization?  Do you know of businesses in the DC area who are already implementing positive practices?  Please share with us.

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About Shannon Polly, MAPP

Shannon M. Polly is a corporate communications trainer, facilitator and speaker and founder of Shannon Polly & Associates, a leadership development company in downtown D.C. Shannon works with executives, managers and employees of Fortune 500 companies in two areas: executive presence/presentation skills (based on over a decade of experience as a professional actor/singer in New York) and positive psychology. Shannon is one the first 100 people in the world who have received her Master in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) degree from the University of Pennsylvania under Dr. Martin Seligman. She also holds a graduate degree from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in classical acting and a B.A. with honors from Yale University. She also holds a coaching certificate from the Georgetown Leadership Coaching Program.

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