The roots of the mentoring practice are lost in antiquity. The word itself was inspired by the character of Mentor in Homer's Odyssey, who was asked by the King of Ithaca to keep an eye on his son Telemachus while he was away fighting the Trojan War.

Mentoring is personal, voluntary and unpaid, confidential, and provided by an experienced person called the "mentor" to another person, the "mentee", in the pursuing of their project. We talk about business mentoring when the activity is related to business management.

Mentor vs. Coach

In French etymology, the word coaching comes from the word "cocher" which used to mean "stage driver of yesteryear". A coach is therefore a private adviser who is involved on a regular basis and in the short term, helping with problems, as part of a systematic process oriented towards "solutions" and "results". They transmit their expertise in coaching and work with the mentee on improving performance.

On the other hand, a mentor is a trustworthy person whose main role is to assist the mentee in developing professionally, based on their own field of knowledge. Therefore, they act primarily on the mentee's self-management over a period more or less long.

We should therefore remember that the key objectives of mentoring are the support and personal growth of the mentee, while the correction of inappropriate behaviour and improvement in performance are roles more likely assigned to a coach.

Mentoring according to Réseau M

In March 2014, Luxembourg joined the Réseau M.
The luxembourgish mentoring programme draws inspiration from the model established by the Fondation de l'entrepreneurship. Thus, the mentoring exercised within the BusinessMentoring programme is based upon the framework of the "Charte des valeurs communes" of the Réseau M. This entrepreneurial mentoring differentiates itself from other mentorships on several levels: it focuses on the entrepreneur rather than the business, and is based on experience rather than expertise, with an interactive rather than a prescriptive approach.