Hughes hails N'Zonzi contribution for Stoke
Renowned as a defensive midfielder, N'Zonzi was involved in both of Stoke's goals as 10-man Sunderland suffered a 2-0 defeat.
The Frenchman set up Charlie Adam's first-half opener before bursting forward to seal victory in the closing stages.
"We've been trying to get Steven N'Zonzi higher up the park," Hughes said.
"We think he's going to be more effective for us if he can do that on a regular basis. Of late he's been in better areas in terms of attacking play.
"He affected the game in the right way today. He created the goal for Charlie with great awareness and scored the second himself. We’re pleased with his performance."
N'Zonzi became the 10th Stoke player to score in the Premier League this season, taking them level with Arsenal and Chelsea as the clubs with the most marksmen in 2013-14.
The victory was Hughes' 100th as a Premier League manager, the 50-year-old having taken charge of matches for Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, Fulham and QPR prior to joining Stoke.
“I wasn't aware of that until someone mentioned it after the game," Hughes said.
"I suppose it's a nice stat but it's not about me. It's all about a good team performance and a win that I think will really settle us down."
Stoke now sit 14th, three points clear of the relegation zone.