How to write a feedback letter

Updated February 17, 2017

Part of improving as a professional is the art of accepting criticism and applying it to your work practices. Many businesses and academic departments solicit feedback from outside reviewers in order to get advice about how to improve their operations. The reviewer has the task of writing a professional letter or report that provides feedback in the requested areas and includes clear, well-organised information that will be credible and useful for the organisation.

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.

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 organisation. 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.

Give a point-by-point analysis of each section in the organisation 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 fulfils each of her responsibilities.

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 statement offers 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 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.

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 the phrase "Sincerely," and your full name. Sign above your typed name in blue or black ink.

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.

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About the Author

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.