Define your organization’s culture before it derails you.

Company culture is an important part of attracting, hiring and retaining top talent. If your organization isn't taking steps to codify and enforce the culture you want, you may end up with exactly the one you don't.

Culture is what guides and drives a business, for better or worse. The set of values, mission, attitude and atmosphere that shape your work environment has a significant impact on results. But if you allow your company culture to evolve organically without guidelines from executives, and without input from workers about what's important to them, you could wind up with exactly what you don't want: a toxic environment that no longer attracts and retains top talent and has difficulty functioning.

Here is a look at how you can shape and foster an organizational culture that aligns with your company mission -- and how to get it back on track should it falter.

Own your culture

The first step in shaping your organization’s culture is to codify it in a culture statement -- and own it. Without one, your organization will be challenged in attracting the kind of talent you want.

Culture constantly evolves

It’s also important to realize that culture can -- and likely should -- evolve, especially as your organization grows. Here, having avenues for employee input are crucial.

The major danger in not codifying and regularly evaluating your corporate culture is that you'll make “bad fit” hires and end up with high turnover, says Levin, but there are other dangers in areas like reputation and recruiting.

Culture comes in many flavors

The notion of a desirable culture will vary from organization to organization, and can be extremely different depending on geography and industry.

The great thing about establishing and owning your culture is you can guide the conversations and hire the right people for that culture. Some cultures don't work for some people, and that's fine, but you need to be upfront and truthful about who you are as a business so it works for both you and your employees.

Culture's become such a huge buzzword over the last few years, and some organizations are trying to leverage that to get better, brighter talent to come work for them without understanding what it's really all about...It's a great thing that these companies want to innovate and to learn how to adapt and change to be successful in an evolving marketplace, but too many don't understand how to go about it.

The invisible hand

"The key to developing a culture is listening. There's an 'invisible hand of the market' aspect to this; employers want to drive culture, but employees are the ones who are actually going to build it. So if the company is deaf to what the employees actually want, what drives people's interest in an organization, then they're going to continue to be lost.

In a tight labor market, the candidate or the employee has the ultimate say in what's important to them. And yeah, culture aside, no one's going to work for free, but when we look at why people are successful, why they stay at their jobs, why they make a positive impact on business and interact successfully with others -- it's culture. So, firms can emulate culture all they want, but if they don't really listen to what their workers want and what's important to them, they'll never make it.

Culture clash

Nowhere is this more evident than in the recent examples set by Amazon and Uber, both of which have come under scrutiny for toxic cultures brought to light by former employees.

Culture isn’t lip service to ideals

So, what went wrong, and how can you keep it from happening to you? It starts with recognizing the importance of culture and making sure everyone at your organization manifests your organizations’ values every day.

Culture is intentional -- and impacts the bottom line

If you’re not intentional about your culture from the very start, it can quickly become a major liability instead of an asset, like what happened with Amazon last year or Uber more recently, says. And that can affect a company’s business performance, morale, engagement and its ability to attract great talent.