Giving good references can be just as important to your career as getting them. Are you ready? In a time when the average tenure at any given company is less than 3 years, strong networks are essential to avoid long periods of unemployment. To maintain a strong network, there are specific actions you can take to ensure you are both giving and receiving great references.
Have you recently been asked to be a reference? If you can honestly give a good reference, do it. If you cannot give a good reference I recommend not doing it because there are too many risks involved. Not only will you put yourself at risk for defamation lawsuits, but you also make it known to an employer that you have no trouble trashing someone else's reputation. If you should ever find yourself applying to a company where someone who checked that reference has since then moved to and their only memory of you is how you trashed that other person, then you potentially lose that opportunity. Whatever you do, don’t be a reference for spite, so you can "get even" with that terrible employee/colleague by giving a bad reference. That may feel great for about 10 minutes, but it can do years of damage to YOU. It's just not worth it.