Getting references seems like such a common sense thing to do. For some reason, I feel that it's a valuable option rarely used. I'd even go as far as to admit that I value nothing more than references when it comes to hiring someone or working together with them. Therefore, I can only shake my head when people don't use one of the easiest tools in the box for hiring or partnering decisions.
I was myself reminded of this multiple times in the past two or three months. On many occasions I was asked to provide references. I've written often about how to use them. Always call at least one or two that are proactively given and find at least one or two (or five) that weren't given by the candidate. Call anyone and everyone who can tell you something about said person. In my situation, these people either knew a ton of people whom I did not think of or they simply did not call. I'd gander that it was the latter since folks tend to let me know that someone called them asking about me.
What an opportunity lost. I am sure there are people out there who hate my guts. Further, they would at least tell you everything I am not good at. Trust me, no one is perfect. You don't want to hire or work with anyone who seems to be. Therefore, if you only call the references which are provided, you'll get a skewed picture. BUT, if you don't call any references, you're hiring (or partnering) based purely on the song and dance that said person gives you in the interview process. You want to know a person's strengths as well as weaknesses (and do filter for the crap provided by some people since they simply dislike someone). It allows you to better position that person for success. You may choose to even pass on that person but if you do hire them, you are far better prepared to help them succeed IN YOUR FIRM.
And there, I come to the main point. Getting references is up to YOU. It is the work you should be doing to hire the best people out there and further, it's a task that helps you manage better. You want to hire AS WELL AS position your employees where they can shine. This helps them and most importantly, it helps you as their manager.