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We had a town hall (organization-wide business meeting) today with my boss's boss. A part of her town hall, she introduced me as a new team member. She asked me to stand up and introduce myself and share a few fun facts about myself with the team.

Here's the weird thing: I've been on the team for 8 years now. 5 of those years, I've been had this same woman as my boss's boss.

While she has a fair number of employees in her org (maybe about 45), she should really know who I am. I've had 1-on-1 meetings were her 5 to 10 times. I chat her occasionally when we both get coffee at the same time. I won an "Employee of the Month" award two years ago, which she personally presented to me.

I feel like I know her reasonably well. I've chatted with her about projects and work. We occasionally chat about the Dallas Cowboys. Heck, I can even tell you the names of her dogs.

What am I supposed to make of this? Is there something I should be doing differently or better? Should I talk to her about this?

And since I'm sure a lot of people are going to ask, I'm positive this wasn't her idea of a joke. She's one of those people who NEVER tells jokes. I don't think anybody has ever seen her smile. Some coworkers have joked that they will give $100 to the first person who can make her laugh.

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    That would make for a very awkward conversation. "Hey, remember when you introduced me as the new team member? Well actually I've been reporting to you for 5 years now and we know each other well because we talk to each other on a somewhat regular basis, and you should clearly know me considering you personally gave me an award. Hahaha, don't you feel kind of silly now?"
    – Fvs
    May 5 at 2:19
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    Were you all wearing masks?
    – Damila
    May 5 at 2:54
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    This whole post reads like a comedy. Thanks for the laugh.
    – solarflare
    May 5 at 4:12
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    Is it possible there's a new team member with the same name as you?
    – shoover
    May 5 at 4:50
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    How come that you introduced yourself in front of a crowd where presumably a lot of people knew you were not a new team member, and there were no laughs, nobody even mentioning this fact, not even you? I mean if it were me, I would probably have started with "Well the funniest fact is probably that after 8 years in the team I'm still considered a new team member"
    – Laurent S.
    May 6 at 12:11
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What am I supposed to make of this?

Most likely explanation is that she confused you with a different person. While this is a non-trivial mistake it does happen, especially if you are under a lot of stress and working with a large number of different people every day. Things can become "blurry".

Is there something I should be doing differently or better?

Better in what respect? It's pretty obvious that you are not on top of her mind, but that's not unusual for that type of relationship. Is there a specific reason why you want more mindshare at that level?

Should I talk to her about this?

That depends a bit on how exactly it happened. Did she call you by name? What was the exact phrasing she used ? This will give you a hint on whether this was an honest mistake or intentional. Chances are it's just a mistake and then it's probably best to just let it go. You can also use your direct manager as a sounding board: they should have an opinion on how that happened and what to do about it.

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    Thanks for the feedback. By better, I'm meaning is this a sign that I'm doing something wrong? Like, is this a sign that I'm failing to make an impression? Should I be more clearly vocalizing who I am, or something? The whole situation is weird and awkward.
    – Fvs
    May 5 at 2:21
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    Oh, and yes - she called me by name. It was essentially "I'd like to introduce <name>, who is new to the team. He is a working on <project> as a <job title>. Can you please stand up and introduce yourself? And maybe share some interesting facts about yourself?" When I was done, she said "it was nice to meet you".
    – Fvs
    May 5 at 2:23
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    Did she at least get those facts correct?
    – AsheraH
    May 5 at 5:02
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    @Fvs Maybe "new to the team" was not meant to be "new to the company" but referring to a new project or working with different people and she wanted to give you more public visibility, If it bugs you: Talk to your direct manager about it, they probably know what happened there and can give advice how to approach it (if necessary)
    – Hilmar
    May 5 at 12:42
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    One thing I would add is an emphatic: DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. The boss might have been operating under any number of conditions we don't know about: sleep-deprived, upset about a school shooting that just happened at her kid's school, Alzheimer's disease, etc... I would find the most charitable explanation that makes sense and go with that. As long as it's a one-time event, of course.
    – mlibby
    May 6 at 14:33
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What am I supposed to make of this?

It's hard to know! But whatever is going on, be gracious about it. The last thing you want to do is to embarrass your boss's boss by pointing out a dumb mistake. As long as your direct manager knows who you are and is looking out for you, you'll be fine.

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There's several possibilities. I raise the other possibilities not to say that you're at fault, but because it's useful to check all the possibilities.

You're not very visible to your manager.

Being visible to the senior people who decide if you stay in the company and get promotions is useful. As this article notes, exposure is a key element in how people view things.

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If for whatever reasons you're not very visible to them you could seek to be more visible, with high profile projects, or speaking up in meetings, or doing a host of things that help. You could talk with your boss to see if this is an issue. They should remember you anyway, but if this is why they don't this is a fixable issue.

They, from stress or cognitive decline, have trouble remembering people.

They could have a lot of people to remember, or they could be cognitively declining from stress, a lack of sleep, bad diet, or mental illness. You could ask others about how they're doing to see if this is an issue. If it is an issue, not a lot you can do about it, the company needs to help. You could ask your boss if they're ok (given that they forgot you exist) and if they are doing badly, try to arrange to lessen their workload.

You are forgettable for some reason.

Have you been away from work for a while? Have you not talked with them for a while? Are you really similar to other coworkers? If so, it would be good to talk to her one on one to remind her you exist, so that when they do discuss you in the future they remember you.

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  • But the thing is shouldn't any manager be aware of how long an employee has been hired by the company, maybe if the number of employees runs into the hundreds then keeping track is impossible, but eight years? CEOs may not remember every face or name but that's no excuse not to check a programmer's status before an important meeting. Working eight years for the same company is not paragonable to someone who's been newly hired or is looking for promotion after 6 months.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 12 at 11:21
  • Ideally, but that didn't happen, and it would be valuable to work out why it didn't happen. They do have 45 people to remember, so I wouldn't assume it's definitely some sort of cognitive decline. Though there is a good chance it is.
    – Nepene Nep
    May 12 at 11:28
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I think you should just politely ask her individually when you get a chance. Something like

Hey "X". I was bit surprised other day. How come you asked me to introduce myself to team? I have been with the team for years and we have also interacted before several times.

You can reframe it as per your style but the idea is to just be gentle and still make it clear that you are kind of concerned. Whether she genuinely forgot you or was having a bad day or she is going through something, you will know and you do not have to speculate.

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Thanks for sharing this (intentionally or not). I plan on sharing this with a few of my colleagues.

In other scenarios presented by other people here, they are right, don't take it personally and forget about it. A comment has mentioned that I should be more generic, so in pretty much every scenario that you could come across, you should forget that this happened as it does you more harm addressing it.

Though the individual you are speaking of works indirectly at around my management level (this is not my real name and I was present during that town hall). She has been "off the rails" from what colleagues and those who work directly with her have been saying ever since she got addicted to the video game with loads of microtransactions and posting videos on a children's video platform. This has been noticed from management at all levels for the past two months. As for the time being I can only say that she plans on getting to know people personally so this may be your chance to brush up on those young people games.

In other words, take it personally, but don't be obvious about it.

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    If this is what it appears to be, --"I was there, I work with that manager, here is why she did that unexpected thing, therefore you don't need to do anything" -- it's far too personal and specific to be an answer to the question. Can you edit this into a more generic "maybe this is about the manager, not you, and in that case here's what you should do" kind of answer? So that it could help someone who found themselves in a similar situation and went straight to "what is it about me that caused this to happen?" May 11 at 18:29
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    You're giving conflicting advice. The top part says "don't take it personally" and the last sentence says "In other words, take it personally".
    – ColleenV
    May 11 at 20:32
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    Why don't you just email Fvs? You clearly seem to know him (or her).
    – PagMax
    May 12 at 11:29

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