BEIJING • A motivational trainer in China, upset at the low scores in a session with rural bank employees, handed out beatings to eight of them, shaved the heads of the men and cut the hair of the women.
"Spanking was a training model I have been exploring for many years," trainer Jiang Yang said on his microblog, absolving the bank's leadership of direct responsibility.
In his apology issued online, he admitted his hard-handed approach may not be generally acceptable, local media reported.
Changzhi Zhangze Rural Commercial Bank, from the northern Shanxi province, hired a Shanghai-based training company to run a "performance breakthrough" course, a local rural banking oversight body said on a government-run website.
After a day of training more than 200 employees last weekend, Mr Jiang demanded explanations from the eight with the weakest scores.
One responded: "I'm not hard on myself." Another shouted: "I didn't make a breakthrough!" A third blamed lack of teamwork.
Mr Jiang then asked the eight employees to prepare to be beaten, and strode up and down the row of offenders several times, whacking them on their behinds with a stick.
One woman who tried to protect her posterior with her hands was ordered to remove them, yelping when she was hit.
Later, he cut the women's hair and shaved the men's heads, according to reports and www.czlook.com, the website of the Changzhi city government news office.
The punishment, captured in a mobile phone video circulated on Chinese social media, touched off criticism. "Since when does beating employees become a way of raising performance?" asked one Weibo user, Denny Tangmashi.
The bank's chairman and a deputy governor have since been suspended. But some saw the punishment for the bankers and the trainer as inadequate. "They need to be beaten with a stick!" wrote Weibo user Edison Li Jingyu.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE