Some people may not take well to criticism, but as a professional, it's the only way to grow. Businesses and academic departments can benefit by having outside reviewers come in and give honest feedback on how to improve daily operations. After review, the reviewer will write a detailed professional letter to give feedback in specific areas where a business may be lacking.
Start With a Professional Letterhead
Write your feedback letter on professional-looking letterhead. Letterhead establishes your professional credentials and creates a solid, credible appearance. Type "Dear Ms./Mr. (Supervisor's name)" followed by a colon. Skip another line space. Type the full date. Skip a line space.
Say Thanks and Provide a Complimentary Statement
Start the letter by thanking the supervisor for the opportunity to visit their establishment. Detail any hospitality you especially appreciated. Make an overall complimentary statement that briefly overviews specific areas that were well-performed or well-run in the organization. This will create positive feelings among those getting the feedback. Even if your overall evaluation was very negative, you can always find something positive and constructive to point out.
Provide an Analysis and Specific Feedback
Give a point-by-point analysis of each section of the organization or the department. For example, if your evaluation was of a university's English department, you might begin by evaluating the department head. Give very specific criticisms and feedback for how she fulfills each of her responsibilities.
Strengths and Criticisms
Detail strengths to retain as well as elements that could be more effective and offer concrete suggestions for each criticism. For example, if you notice that the department head has been late turning in instructor evaluations, you might write, "The department head provides very thorough and detailed evaluations; however, the evaluations are often turned in late, perhaps as a result of her desire to write very comprehensive evaluations. In the future, she should consider omitting nonessential detail to reduce the amount of time she needs to complete the reports."
This example does not shy away from offering a direct criticism, but it compliments the director for her thoroughness at the same time rather than focusing solely on her inability to turn in evaluations on time.
Evaluate, Review, and Critique Each Department
Evaluate each department, and then each key employee within the department. Thoroughly review each department's functions and how well the key employees perform these functions. Offer an overall evaluation of the negative elements that you discovered, and write an action plan for the department to resolve them. This plan will include elements from all the criticisms you pointed out in the individual critiques. Include a detailed explanation of the department's significant strengths, including compliments for key employees who are performing exceptionally well. Discuss how the department can build on these strengths.
Closing Your Feedback Letter
Give a brief overall assessment of the department with both the significant strengths and weaknesses included. Conclude by thanking the supervisor again, and provide your contact information in case the supervisor has additional questions. Close your letter with a complimentary close the phrase such as "Sincerely," and your full name. Sign above your typed name in blue or black ink.
Don't Forget Additional Copies
Make several copies of the letter. Retain one copy for your records. Mail an additional copy to the supervisor's boss if they requested one. Mail the original directly to the supervisor.
Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.