A Reader Writes:
When my boss observes that a team member has met with me in my office, she will ask me later what the meeting was about. Because I have been on the team for many years, employees like to confide in me with their work issues to get some advice. They rely on my discretion. In summary, my boss is asking me to betray confidences. If I outright refuse her requests, I may jeopardize my job. How should I handle this?
Make sure you are not exacerbating her paranoia. When team members complain to you about her, do you stoke their indignation? Or do you encourage them to try various ways to improve their relationship with her or to communicate with her directly? If you are providing useful advice or unofficial coaching to others, your office does not sound like the ideal location given its fishbowl effect. Offer to meet people out of the office for a cup of coffee and limit office meetings to business rather than banter.